Gig Review

Alice Gold, Stoney
Birmingham, HMV Institute
4th December 2010

Athlete                           Alice Gold             Stoney      
Photo Of Stoney © Copyright Helen WilliamsIt's an icy Saturday night in Digbeth, but the newly reopened HMV Institute in Birmingham's back streets is a welcoming and cosy venue. Originally a methodist chapel, its majestic high ceilings are the perfect setting for a band like Athlete.

As the crowd gathers, Stoney is the first onto the stage. Also known as Adam Stoney, he seems relaxed and plays a laid back set of acoustic tracks, with innovative accompaniments from a keyboard, laptop, and loop track. It seems Andy, his keyboardist, has a few friends in the audience, and he's getting more attention than Stoney himself, who takes it well, joking that he'll be on the Merch stand at the end of the gig, while Andy's at the pub signing autographs.

Alice Gold is up next, a hair swishing maniac with the weirdest facial expressions you're likely to see from a musician. Luckily, she has such charisma and talent, not to mention a massive voice, that she pulls it off very well; she delivers an energetic and varied set, with a strong 60s rock influence. At the risk of sounding like a feminist, it's great to see a powerful frontwoman lead a band so well; her presence reminds me of Hayley Williams and Lily Allen, and I wouldn't be surprised if she's one of the big acts to emerge in 2011.

Photo Of Alice Gold © Copyright Helen WilliamsAfter a long wait, the lights dim. The stage is lit by a singe spotlight for frontman Joel Potts, who comes out carrying a ghetto blaster as his accompaniment for the first song of the night; 'You Got The Style'. He's greeted by a thankful crowd and plays an acoustic rendition of the song before the other band members join him on the stage and launch into 'Superhuman Touch' and 'Hurricane'. As it's the last night of the tour, Potts explains that their tour manager has created a 'comedy set list' for the night - for example, 'Out Of Nowhere' has become 'Out Of Joe Where' because one of their technicians, called Joe, was once hit in the head at a gig by something that came out of nowhere. The full set list is at the end of the review: see if you can guess where the others came from.

This is the band's tenth anniversary tour, and although they don't look old enough to have been around for so long, they know how to command the stage and entertain their audience. Most of the people here are die hard fans, and the atmosphere is fantastic; the entire room is singing every word of every track. The band are promoting their recently released compilation album, 'Singles 01–10', which includes all the singles from their ten year career, so no hit is missed off the set list. There's a great mix, ranging from the acoustic and raw to the more catchy and produced tracks like 'Back Track'. Amongst the highlights are the beautiful 'Black Swan Song', written for Potts' grandfather after his death, the ubiquitous 'El Salvador', and 'Wires', written for Potts' newborn daughter.

Photo Of Athlete © Copyright Helen WilliamsFor the last chorus of 'Wires', he asks the audience to put down their cameraphones and enjoy the moment. 'Take a memory home in your head' he says, and I can hear people mumbling in agreement all around me. Once one stubborn member of the audience has been persuaded to lower his phone, we watch and listen as he sings the final chorus. It's something that can't be taken home and uploaded onto Facebook as a blurry memory, and it's all the better for it.

We all know they're coming back for an encore, but it doesn't stop the room stomping and clapping for the band to return to the stage. We're treated to 'The Getaway' and 'Half Light' before we come to the final song of the night. The house lights shine out onto us and everyone is on their feet on the balcony. It's the last night of a 13 date tour and Potts thanks everyone for their support over the last ten years. He's emotional as he briefly sits at the back of the stage and waits for us to stop cheering, before he stands to deliver the final song of the night, 'Chances'. It's a powerful and fitting song to end on, and I don't think a single person left the venue without a smile and a lyric on their lips. Here's to ten more years.

Stoney: 3/5
Alice Gold: 4/5
Athlete: 5/5

Review By Helen Williams


Joel Pott
Carey Willets
Steve Roberts
Tim Wanstall

 Alice Gold

Alice Gold



 Band Related Links
Athlete Myspace
Alice Gold Myspace
Stoney Myspace
 Review Score Code
- Top Cheese
- Brilliant
- Pretty damn good
- Ok I guess
- What Was That?