LIVE: The Faim / Hot Milk / Cemetery Sun @ Academy 3, Manchester

By Gem Rogers

Sunday night gigs usually seem to go hand in hand with a mild lack of enthusiasm for gig goers. Fair enough, considering the impending doom of Monday morning (and one that’s about to be even more brain-meltingly exhausting than usual) – but tonight’s show in Manchester Academy 3 doesn’t seem to be having that problem. Within minutes of doors, there’s a Friday night style buzz and a crowd to match in this 500-cap room, ready for a young Australian band who’ve taken the continent (and, indeed, the world) by storm over the past two years.

It means Californian openers Cemetery Sun, on their first visit to Manchester, have a sizeable audience to play for with their dreamy, electronic alt pop/rock set. Vocalist Josh Doty brings a vibrant energy to the stage (not just the result of his neon hoody, either) that’s backed up by his warm, smooth vocal tone and catchy melodies aplenty – unfortunately, there’s just something about this performance that doesn’t quite connect. Whether it’s the slightly-too-loud backing track, their unexpected sound, or something else entirely, the crowd never seem to fully vibe with the band, and it ultimately feels a little flat. Songs like the softly soaring ‘Getting Over You’ and the delightfully chantable ‘Piece Of Shit’ show masses of promise, though, and the band’s return to Manchester in future would definitely not be unwelcome.

When it comes to getting the party fully started, there really couldn’t be anyone better placed to do it than the rowdy bunch that are Manchester’s own Hot Milk. It’s only natural, after a year packed with festival appearances and support slots to showcase their irresistible powerpop, that they’ve built up a following just as enthusiastic as they are, with EP tracks being joined tonight by a handful of new tunes and incredibly popular new single ‘Candy Coated Lie$’. Vocals from Han Mee and Jim Shaw are a little on the pitchy side a few times through the set, and there does sometimes seem to be over-reliance on a backing track, but their passion and energy can’t be disputed – and nor can the smiles on the faces of the watching (and dancing) crowd after this genuinely enjoyable set.


Almost non-stop touring across the US, Europe, and their native Australia, and now their third headline tour of the UK in less than a year… You might expect that The Faim would be starting to look a bit worn around the edges, perhaps suffering from a hint of oversaturation, by this point. Not only is that not true of the crowd – who are, by now, positively bubbling with excitement – but within seconds of their arrival on stage, the mere idea of the word ‘tired’ is cast far from the mind. The Faim are wide awake, and ready to show exactly why they have become so beloved in such a short space of time.

As the first tour since the release of debut album ‘State Of Mind’, it’s these new tracks that are rightly in the spotlight tonight – although judging by the fan reaction as a ‘School Of Rock’ intro feeds into the invigorating ‘Tongue Tied’, they’re already just as well known and loved as the EP and singles that came before. This lively start doesn’t let up with ‘Amelie’ and ‘Beautiful Drama’ swiftly following, and these are the kind of songs that The Faim have perfected – from the rockier edge of the former to the poppier RnB style of the latter, they are linked by an infectious energy that is made all the better by the strength of the band’s live performance.

Having more songs released to the world also affords them the opportunity to explore different sides to some of these tracks and, after the well-beloved singalong ‘Make Believe’, a stripped back version of album track ‘Words Apart’ allows front man Josh Raven’s powerful vocals to shine over keys from Stephen Beerkens for an hauntingly entrancing few minutes. It’s these vocals from Raven that play a huge part in making The Faim stand out in a crowded pop-rock world; rich in tone and emotion, Raven has a versatility in his voice that brings life to every moment of the set, equally at home in the quieter moments like this as in the riotous, anthemic choruses of ‘Fire’ and ‘Saints Of The Sinners’.

With plenty of time for older singalong favourites like ‘My Heart Needs To Breathe’ and ‘Midland Line’, tonight is a show filled with fun and positive vibes, cultivated by a band clearly having the time of their lives on stage as they deliver a tightly honed, yet wholly natural feeling performance. It’s the finale that delivers the biggest highlights of the night, though, as old closer ‘Summer Is A Curse’ is moved out in favour of new tracks ‘Buying Time’ and ‘State Of Mind’, building to a climactic finish worthy of the biggest stadium shows – powerful and memorable, it’s accompanied by a conviction that in just a few moments lays clear their passion for the music they are creating.

It’s the perfect round off to an evening with a band who almost certainly have those stadium headliners in their future, and with performances as exciting and dynamic as this, they’ll be more than well deserved. One thing’s for sure – not only is nobody tired of seeing The Faim yet, but we can’t see it happening any time soon.