LIVE: ROAM / Milestones / Wolf Culture @ Arts Club, Liverpool

By Gem Rogers

Summer is a pretty rubbish time to be a gig fan in the UK. As festival season takes over and temperatures increase from ‘meh’ to ‘perma-sweaty’ overnight, the steady flow of tours dries up faster than you can say “hosepipe ban”. Tonight, the drought ends in more than one way in Liverpool; ROAM have rolled into town, and they’ve brought the rain with them.

It makes for a pretty miserable Monday night outside as fans trickle slowly into the Arts Club, and whether it’s the weather or the day of the week (or a combination of both), Bournemouth’s Wolf Culture aren’t given many people to play with as they kick off the evening. Playing fairly standard issue pop punk that is decent and enjoyable enough, the lack of energy in the room sadly means it all falls a little flat. It’s a shame as the band are certainly capable of more, and the set does their music no justice – although the more upbeat moments begin to lift the atmosphere, on this occasion there’s not quite enough shine to make it memorable.

Second band of the night Milestones have spent the last few years cropping up just about everywhere, and with a few of their t-shirts making appearances down at the front, they’re clearly building themselves a solid fanbase. It’s not hard to see why, either; they bring absolutely everything they have to the stage, radiating passion and spirit with an accessible, anthemic pop punk sound that could easily fill a room ten times the size of this 250 capacity venue. Matt Clarke’s vocals are the real highlight of this outrageously enjoyable set, clear and unfaltering throughout. Milestones haven’t quite hit on anything new or unique in their sound or lyrics yet, but it’s hard to care much when it sounds this good live.

The blues still seem to be hanging heavy in the room when ROAM take to the stage, despite the sunshine they’ve brought in the form of backdrops that presumably account for Eastbourne’s entire stock of yellow fabric. ROAM aren’t the kind of band to let a crowd stare at their shoes, though, and with encouragement arms finally unstick from sides for the effervescent ‘Alive’. We may all be doing a lot of worrying these days, but these are lyrics perfect for turbulent times (and Mondays) – “when the world weighs on your shoulders / push back, don’t let it hold you down”.

Through a set dominated by tracks from ‘Great Heights & Nosedives’, Alex Costello bounds around the stage with unrelenting energy, his vocals woven perfectly with those of guitarist Alex Adam as they tackle the big hooks and addictive melodies of their second album. It’s when the band dip into their back catalogue that the crowd really come alive, though; the thrashing ‘Warning Sign’ and ‘Over Your Head’ from their earlier EPs send the first few rows into a frenzy as more fans rush down to the front to join in.

Mid-set, Adam takes a moment to introduce ‘The Rich Life Of A Poor Man’ by talking about the pressures and expectations there are on us to have achieved something by a certain age – but all that really matters is the memories we create and the friends we make along the way. It’s a message reflected in the lyrics of the song it precedes – “if you got the time, I got a story to tell / of how I lost my money in a wishing well” – and there’s something that feels so magical about a group of strangers bellowing these words back in unison. These are, after all, the best memories to hold on to.

Finishing the night with ‘Playing Fiction’, ROAM have proven once again that they are more than capable of bringing fun into even the quietest and most reluctant of rooms. Liverpool might not have provided the best pop punk crowd tonight, but the band’s enthusiasm shines regardless. Those who came to sing and move their feet have received more than plentiful reward in the form of brilliantly executed music – and as we exit into the night, the rain has stopped.