LIVE: Bayside @ The Joiners Arms, Southampton

By Rob Barbour

‘I think this is the most we’ve ever spoken on stage,’ says Bayside frontman Anthony Raneri to a rapt crowd.

‘You’re all so attentive’.

And he’s right – we’ve been coming to gigs at Southampton’s legendary Joiners Arms since some of you were in nappies, and this is the first time since camera phones became ‘a thing’ that we’ve seen the entire room experiencing the moment through presence as opposed to via an oblong screen. Bayside is a cult, and tonight its members pay tribute.

Despite celebrating their 15th birthday this year, Bayside have never played a headline tour in the UK and there’s a sense of lost time being made up this evening. Despite technically still being in the promotion cycle for it the band play only three songs from last year’s ‘Cult’ album, opting instead for a set of fan favourites – provided your favourites don’t include┬ád├ębut ‘Sirens & Condolences’ and 2008’s ‘Shudder’, both of which get only one song apiece.

From the moment ‘Pigsty’ kicks off proceedings the only let-ups in sonic action come from the band’s slightly awkward (yet self-aware) between song-banter, and as always the quartet (particularly bassist Nick Ghanbarian) are a delight to watch – tighter than a corpse’s fist and so obviously still in love with their material. Jack O’Shea remain’s pop-punk’s resident shredder and though all of Bayside’s music sounds better live his guitar interplay with Raneri is a particular highlight, bringing an involuntary grin to our (entirely sober) faces on more than one occasion.┬áThe sound at The Joiners is rarely less than flawless but particularly flatters bands with┬áthe chops Bayside display tonight.

It’s a Wednesday night in a not-quite-full┬ávenue┬áand as a result there’a noticeable lack of atmosphere when Raneri and co take the stage but about a third of the way through their set they pull off a blink-and-you’ll miss it, utterly flawless segue from ‘Already Gone’ straight into ‘They’re Not Horses, They’re Unicorns’ and there’s a sensory jolt which brings the room to life with an energy that’s sustained for the rest of their (almost 20-song) set. By the time the night’s inevitable but nonetheless anticipated climax arrives in the shape of ‘Devotion and Desire’ the crowd – understandably uncertain as to whether we’ll have to wait another decade and a half for the next headline tour – break into a chant of ‘One More Song’. We don’t get it, but following a performance of this calibre no-one’s complaining. Bayside┬ámay be a┬ácult, but in The Joiners tonight they’re Kings.