LIVE: Expire @ Upstairs, The Garage, London [15/02/14]

By Mike Scott

This was always going to a sweaty one. And an early one. With a curfew at 10pm I sadly did not see Forsaken – and apologies to those guys. From what I heard from people’s reactions they were excellent, so it’s a real shame. Arrival did coincide with Coldburn setting up though – the tour support for the Europe leg of the Expire tour. Hailing from Leipzig, Germany the band are a throwback band – offering different gravy to well chewed meat. A duel, dropped tuned guitar attack that saw hands rarely leave their homely, chugging positions, Coldburn gave a slightly muted performance to a very muted crowd. They definitely had their moments, but they suffered from touring with a band too similar and more ingenious than they themselves – and a sluggish performance developed as the band bounced off a sagging crowd.

Expire didn’t take long to set up – and a sudden sense of Jekyll and Hyde hit the throng of the crowd (who had gravitated as far from the stage as possible up to now). Frontman Josh Kelting merely needed to utter a few words in his quiet and polite between-song tone for the crowd to move forward a good distance. He is the epitome of cool – sporting, this evening anyway, one of those bun-hair cuts that the dude from Made In Chelsea irritates the world with. But, you know, he wears it well.

Powering through what I believe was every single track from Pendulum Swings, the band’s flawless full length debut, Expire gave a class in precision playing – the intensity of the crowd interaction and the vocals being shouted 2 inches from their faces was almost too much – and I would find myself taking a mental step back, to fully enjoy the musical engine, powering along behind Josh. For Expire are a well oiled machine – and understated movement from the rest of the band did nothing to remove from the spectacle – whilst meaning that they didn’t put a musical foot wrong throughout all 40 minutes they played for.

The stage at the Garage upstairs is tiny – indeed the guitarist took half of it up himself with arms bigger than my legs. So when the band closed on album opener ‘Just Fine’, the dozen or so diving kids at the front pushed the band back towards the wall. But it barely mattered. They knew every word and were screaming as loud as the mic was shouting back at them. THAT is what a Saturday night should be like. Even if it was over by 9.35pm.