This is a gig I had been looking forward to and dreading in equal amounts. This show marks Thrice playing their last gig here for the foreseeable future, as after they are done with this tour, they will go on “indefinite hiatus”. So I couldn’t wait to see them play, as they are one of my favourite bands of all time and space, but it would draw a close, for now, to them existing as a band, which is crap, by any measure.
We queued for a little while, but before too long we were inside. The HMV Forum in Kentish Town is a pretty impressive venue, with a fairly good view from everywhere, I may well keep this place on the radar for future gigs. One thing I had intended to do was pick up a tour t-shirt, but the designs were bloody awful, I was pretty gutted, as parting with £20 for some ugly t-shirt is a bit much. Thrice, should you come back to our shores, and please do, have better merch next time.
So after the inevitable 20 minutes of terrible, inaudible music through the P.A, we were greeted by support band Brontide. I’d had time to check out the tracks on their facespace beforehand, and liked what I heard. Live though, they came across as a little bit boring at times, and a little too much like Russian Circles to be classed as a different band on some tracks too. I like them, but I don’t think this was the best time or place for me to check them out properly. They certainly have a solid collection of ideas, but they ramble on a tad. It was a shame, as they’re full of energy and very talented, but I was just waiting for them to get off stage so Thrice would come on. That being said, I would definitely go and see them again, just somewhere smaller, where I could give them a listen without Thrice overshadowing them.
When Thrice finally appeared, the whole place exploded. They have always been a humble bunch, so it’s is surely empowering to see that there were so many of us there to show that that they matter, they really matter to us. Wasting no time, Thrice opened with leading track “Yellow Belly” from their current album “Major/Minor”. The roof was raised, with the band and crowed in unison, screaming the chandeliers down. They quickly followed with “Image Of The Invisible” and “The Artist In The Ambulance”, before bashing out the mighty “Silhouette” and “The Weight”. With every song, the crowd found their voice, but Dustin Kensrue’s voice still easily cut through the roars. As a band who have matured and evolved their sound album upon album, I think Dustin is the one member where this is maybe more evident, his voice has become stronger with every release. The guy is the consummate frontman; passionate and confident (even when he forgot one line, it didn’t matter) with a delivery that stands head and shoulders above his peers.
There were the obvious crowd pleasers. Firebreather, Deadbolt and Stare At The Sun, all went down well. But it was the little surprises that made it a stand-out night. With a selection from every release, there was something for everyone, and with good reason. The band had opened up a vote online, to help them pick tracks for the tour’s setlist. So they got to play one of the band’s favourite tracks “Broken Lungs”, just one track picked by the fans. This has one of the most tasteful beats of any from their back catalogue, Riley Breckenridge is a personal musical hero of mine, so to see him bust this out was a pleasure.They played out to “Beggars” and left the stage, before returning for the first encore with “Come All You Weary”. “Phoenix Ignition” was a welcome addition, I kinda suspected they’d play that, but I think standout track of the night, for me anyway, was “The Earth Will Shake” from “Vheissu”. That album is such an amazing piece of work, I can’t understand why it didn’t do as well as “The Artist In The Ambulance”. This song in particular, shows off their creativity as songwriters, with a dynamic quality that I think surpasses anything they wrote on The Artist In The Ambulance. Their last planned song was one that has become a mainstay in my car playlist – Anthology; a track pieced together as a homage to their time together as a band. I actually almost choked up when they played this, as it meant that we were about to witness the departure of a bright light in the industry. So, to the expected rapturous round of applause, Thrice left the stage again. This time though, the crowd were not taking no for an answer, and we did not stop cheering and clapping and stamping until Thrice got the message that they owed us one more. So, for the first time in their history, Thrice did a second encore. It was one song, “T & C”, one of their first tracks and one they had not played for years. They gave the crowd what they wanted and were given the send off that from a 14 year career, they have earned.
Thrice left the stage, this time for good. Who knows how long it will be before they reform. They have given no indication that this hiatus will be permanent, I’m sure there will be more solo offerings from all members soon enough, but I left the venue feeling as much sadness as elation. I was lucky enough to see their first UK show, at Download in 2003, just prior to the release of The Artist In The Ambulance, and now have seen their last. Thrice have always an will always be a very special band to me. To see that the show was a sell out is testament to the fact I’m not alone in feeling that sentiment. To come out to a room full of your biggest fans must be a rush, and throughout the night, the exchange of energy between the band and the crowd made the night special.
Thank You Thrice.