LIVE: Lower Than Atlantis / Young Guns @ The LCR, Norwich

By Louis Kerry

Lower Than Atlantis are currently one of the biggest bands on the UK alternative scene. With the recent release of their fifth album ‘Safe in Sound’ they have slowly drifted from one area of the rock spectrum to another. They first burst onto the scene as a rough around the edges and gritty four-piece who were the antithesis of the crop of radio friendly and inoffensive rock bands. LTA could always nail writing a catchy tune that would be full of emotion. After their second album, they had a knack for writing huge arena rock locked down, but it started to lack the heart that they once had, which has only got worse as their career has progressed. Soulless or not, this new era of their songwriting is arguably what’s got them here, as they kick off their biggest headline tour in their ten year career.

Like a wasp who won’t fly back out of the window, Young Guns are supporting yet another band bigger and better than them. Gustav Wood goes a bit overboard with his rockstar persona, trying to hype up the crowd, perhaps forgetting the majority of the audience aren’t here to see them. The nostalgic factor is where they shine as the likes of ‘Bones’ and ‘Weight of the World’ sound just as good now as they did on Scuzz TV all those years ago. It’s a shame that they’ve not reached the same heights as many of their contemporaries, as they’d relish the challenge, but they’ve certainly now nailed how to get an audience warmed up for the main event.

Lower Than Atlantis soon arrive onstage stage and launch straight into their latest hit ‘Had Enough’. The crowd aren’t completely won over until they play ‘Emily’ which gets a massive reaction. Unfortunately, any hopes that the set would be a fully-fledged greatest hits set wear increasingly thin. 90% of the set is comprised from songs just from their last two records. However people react just as positively to their new tracks like ‘Stays the Same’ and ‘Work For it’ as they do to ‘Beech Like A Tree’, which is a testament to the strength of their songwriting ability if nothing else.

Mike Duce performs with charm, wit and excitement matched with a rough but distinctive voice that’s full of emotion. This is at its finest when he starts the band’s encore with ‘Another Sad Song’ as the audience sing back every word to arguably the most heartbreaking track in his back-catalogue.

The band have never been the type to have flamboyant stage personas, which can make shows in bigger venues seem less exciting, so their Radiohead inspired use of their backdrop and video cameras attached to their instruments gave their show an atmospheric layer that they’ve never had before. This helps keeps things interesting and acts as a satisfying distraction from the omission of many old favourites in the set.

Despite the poor choice in setlist, their ability to create a raw, unhinged and interactive live experience is hard to compete against. Whether it’s Mike Duce pulling on your heart strings or jumping into the cloakroom to finish the set, Eddy Thrower’s sheer aggression on the drums or even if it’s just Dec Hart’s contagious smile behind the bass, the boys will always win you over. Lower Than Atlantis are no longer that unpolished diamond that some of the audience still lust for, they clearly moved on to become a crown jewel of the scene whether you like it or not.

Louis Kerry