LIVE: Layers @ Birmingham Academy 3 [20/09/2013]

By Ben Tipple

When bands manage to generate an air of excitement around them prior to any official release, it is normally a good sign. Drawing influences from a wide range of artists and styles, Birmingham based Layers attract this attention through their distinct amalgamation of soul and rock and their incessant penchant for a pop melody. Tonight’s showcase in the heart of England celebrates their debut EP release and provides an opportunity for them to live up to their understated hype.

Bringing support from fellow midlanders Dead Sea Skulls and one-man lo-fi machine Mutes, tonight’s line-up is nothing short of eclectic. There is something to be said for variation as Mutes delivers some mesmerising soundscapes and Dead Sea Skulls inject some energy with their take on indie-punk.

There is clearly anticipation in the air as Layers take to the stage. Increasingly renowned for their energetic live performances, frontman Lance Joseph literally bounds onto centre stage with a mischievous buoyancy that remains throughout the show. Undeterred by the limited space on stage, he delves into the crowd and momentarily performs from the bar at the far end of the venue.

Musically the band are on fine form, offering takes from their EP alongside some older material and a well-delivered cover of Skunk Anansie’s ‘Hedonism’. Symbolic of their disregard for genres, the track contradicts the heavier material yet indicates their broad tastes.

The Incubus inspired funk is ever present as the band rip through the likes of ‘Mind on Fire’ and ‘Not Enough’, yet it is the appearance of a string trio for encore track and EP closer ‘Gradually’ that sees the band come into their own. Taking a rare still moment allowing the vocals to settle, Joseph delivers an equally heart wrenching yet uplifting performance underpinned by epic musicianship.

Their affinity for pop is evident throughout their sound, with the melodies pushed to the forefront both on record and in a live setting. Tonight, the melody drives both the performance and the crowd. Egged on by the band’s charisma, the audience throw themselves around with reckless abandon. It may be early days for Layers, but their unashamed sensibilities and near perfect performance is a potential recipe for success.