LIVE: A Loss For Words / Roam / Wind In Sails @ The Underworld, London

By Glen Bushell

When you look back through the annals of punk rock, often the bands that received the least amount of commercial success gained much more adoration for their credibility. One of the more recent bands to face this hurdle was A Loss For Words, who for 15 years have travelled the world over with their honest, and relatable music. It’s not been easy for them, yet while some of their peers would become hero worshiped, this Boston punk band remained grounded and didn’t compromise a thing. They never made money, and never sold out large venues, but the continued to do it for one reason; love.

However all good things must one day come to an end, and after 3 solid albums, a number of EP’s, countless shows, and a loyal group of fans – or friends as vocalist Matty Arsenault would inform the crowd later in the evening – A Loss For Words have decided to call time on their career. They couldn’t leave this place without coming to the UK one final time though, and on this Sunday night in Camden, its time for them to say their goodbyes to us.

Before what would ultimately be a hard goodbye, we are treated to Wind In Sails, which is the new venture by former Vanna guitarist Evan Pharmakis. Obviously a daunting task for any relatively unknown musician to stand in front of another bands audience and bare their soul, but Pharmakis remains unperturbed. His heartfelt acoustic songs touch the souls of those who pay attention, and bearing a resemblance to Dallas Green’s early work in City and Colour, his note perfect, velveteen voice is stunning to listen too. ‘Push and Shove’ and a fresh take on Vanna’s ‘The Same Graceful Wind’ are glorious, and with his closing number ‘Wild Child’ prefixed by a dedication to his fiancé, it was a heart warming set from an artist that we will no doubt be hearing more from in the future.

Next up are Roam, who are clearly one of the UK’s brightest hopes in punk right now, and have played a number of high profile shows. They are clearly happy to be here as there were invited by A Loss For Words at the last minute, and are full of energy on stage. The songs are tight, and well played, with ‘Warning Sign’ obviously being a bit of a favourite with tonight’s audience, however the problem with their sound is that it is very much pop-punk by numbers. Vocalist Alex Costello occasionally falls into the trap of singing in an American accent, which takes any originality away from them in the live setting. However the band are still in their early years, and with the ability they possess to write such catchy songs they can only grow from here.

Of course tonight, there is only one reason that we are here, and although the Underworld is not as busy as it should have been, the faithful that are in attendance absorb every moment they can of the last time they will see A Loss For Words at a UK show. The band launch into ‘Honeymoon Eyes’ which sounds every bit as uplifting as it does on record, and the crowd surging forward to join Arsenault in their final moment. ‘Hold Your Breath’ and ‘Raining Excuses’ induce huge smiles through out their duration from both the band and audience, and when the band are joined by Lynn Gunn from PVRIS for ‘Distance’ it almost feels like a passing of the torch ceremony as A Loss For Words champion the next generation of bands.

During almost each song Arsenault directly addresses the crowd, and explains to them how much they mean to the band, and how grateful they are for anyone who has taken an interest in them. He is inspiring to listen too as you can tell he means every syllable he utters. This gives way to a touching rendition of ‘Mt. St. Joseph’, which almost reduces the vocalist to tears, and he is not the only one visibly moved by tonight’s proceedings. Of course no A Loss For Words show would be complete without ‘Stamp Of Approval’ which provides the biggest sing a long of the night, however they bring the house down with an unexpected cover of ‘I Want You Back’ by The Jackson 5, meaning that they go out with smiles on a high rather than this being a time for mourning.

So before we know it, it is over. The last time we will see A Loss For Words, and it was a special experience to be a part of. On behalf of everyone at Punktastic, we send a big thank you to A Loss For Words for the memories, and we wish them well on the next chapter of their lives.