CIRCA WAVES, Roundhouse – Evening Standard, 29 April 2019

It’s an oddly impressive record: Liverpool band Circa Waves’ three albums have all grazed the edge of the top 10 for a week before plummeting out of the chart again, like a tennis ball failing to reach a tower block window. While it doesn’t look like the quartet are growing in popularity, it has left them with a fanbase fervent enough to make the Roundhouse feel like a cauldron. Fizzing lads removed shirts, jostled and pint-chucked, while girls mounted sweaty shoulders, keeping the room in restless motion throughout an hour-long set.

  It has also gifted the band enough cash to blow on a lightshow fit for venues twice the size, a wall of blinding spots that rendered all optimistic phone footage uselessly white. There were fireworks too – a torrent of sparks during the thunderous intro, Wake Up.

  The thing that has grown is the group’s musical range. Since 2015, across those three albums, they have moved from the speedy, scrappy sunniness of T-shirt Weather (still their most popular song and the inevitable encore here) to the grungey stomp of the second album’s Stuck, to the shinier pop rock of Times Won’t Change Me, which saw bassist Sam Rourke shifting to the piano.

  The constant has been a friendly catchiness, making everything from their debut’s Stuck in My Teeth to this month’s Movies feel familiar straight away. If frontman Kieran Shudall had mustered  rock star charisma beyond a red shirt, those who moan that Arctic Monkeys are too weird nowadays would have found plenty to love here.

  In a setlist that didn’t draw too heavily on the newest material, the anthemic ambitions of one new one, The Way We Say Goodbye, showed they’re undoubtedly hungry to be bigger, but Coldplay can rest easy. The night flew by on pace and melody in a fun but forgettable evening.

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