LIVE: The Xcerts @ The Bodega, Nottingham

By Mark Johnson

The last time we saw The Xcerts, the band’s broad smiles were matched by the enthusiasm of the crowd in a thoroughly packed-out tent at 2000 Trees festival. The Bodega may be much smaller, and considerably darker, than your average festival atmosphere, but the band step onto the stage with exactly the same enthusiasm as they did in the summer.

The band’s love of performing is clear in the songs they write. Across three albums and numerous EPs, The Xcerts have been serving up anthemic alt-rock that’s toe-tappingly catchy and in a live setting, the huge sing-along choruses and driving rhythms make it impossible to stand still.

Mixed in amongst classic favourites such as ‘Shaking In the Water’ and ‘Kids on Drugs’, are tracks from the band’s upcoming new record ‘Hold On To Your Heart’, due out on January 19, and on this early evidence, it could be the trio’s best yet. Latest single ‘Daydream’ gets the night off to a fine start with an upbeat, vibrant atmosphere and the wonderfully smooth ‘First Kiss Feeling’ and ‘Show Me Beautiful’ continue to showcase the incredible songwriting talent embedded in the band.

Whether it’s front-man Murray Macleod’s double denim or the way the band carry themselves on stage, there’s a certain classical feel to The Xcerts. With no reliance on frills, the band churn through hit after hit, letting their music do the talking for them. Macleod himself announces that the band are just here to have fun and it’s this fun-loving personality that makes The Xcerts so endearing.

The structure of the band’s set only adds to the feeling of refinement and professionalism. Starting the night with heavy-hitting, uptempo songs ensures the crowd is with them from the first note, before they switch the tempo mid-set to introduce some calmer, more chilled-out songs. A highlight is Macleod’s solo, stripped back version of ‘Pop Song’ which invites the crowd to sing it back to him at the top of their lungs. It’s an atmosphere topped only by the emotion of encore track ‘Aberdeen 1987’; always a fan favourite and with good reason.

The final new track, ‘Feels Like Falling In Love’, is a perfect choice to close the set, bringing the tempo right back up and is sure to be a setlist favourite for many years. Despite the number of times we’ve heard it over the summer, it still forces a smile every time.

Whether it’s fast, slow, happy or sad, The Xcerts have the talent and ammunition to pull off any mood. It’s what makes the band so appealing on record, and overwhelmingly impressive live. With ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ just around the corner, be sure to catch the band touring next year; you’ll be hard pushed to find many better live acts in the UK.