There is now a serious chill in the air and Christmas is almost upon us. But with the holiday season comes end-of-the-year fanclub gigs, where bands play smaller venues as a thank you to their fans for their support and love throughout the year. Last night was such an event for one of my favorite acts of the year, Longview. The tiny Water Rats venue would be the place this special even would occur, and thanks to the wrangling of band manager and all around good kid Ben ìSterlingî Durling, who was celebrating his birthday, I managed to finagle my way in to one of the five best shows Iíd seen all year.
The room was packed and I had just walked in the room after seeing Manchester United slap Stuttgart like a red-headed step-child, when the band hit the stage at 9:30 promptly. The room that had held my first viewings of fellow rockers Keane and Haven had been adorned with strings and strings of Christmas lights, added a festive glow. Frontman Rob McVey was in an equally festive mood as the band started things off slowly with the somber ìStill.î However, the somber mood did not last long as the band rocked through much of their wondrous debut, Mercury. Highlights were many, but included the driving ìNowhere,î the epic ìCanít Explainî (one of my top five songs of the year), and three new songs thrown in for good measure. Why Longview isnít a main-stage headlining festival band yet is beyond me, as this Mancunian quartet have anthems aplenty. ìThis Isî should be the festival-defining moment song, the one that has the front third of a 60,000 strong audience clapping in unison, while ìOnly When You Sleepî should be the one that gets the entire field pogoing in unison. As this was a special show, songs got special treatment, with extended jams, breakdowns not present in recorded versions and those aforementioned three new tracks. By the time their stunning ìFurtherî closed the encore out, the electricity the air was apparent. Robís stage presence is growing by leaps and bounds, and the guitar tones and backing vocals are excellent. An amazing gig all the way around and the presence of Matt Pinfield makes one wonder if Warner Bros. has passed on US release and Columbia has stepped in. No matter, as long as the record gets delivered to US audiences and fans are offered the chance to see the boys live on US soil. A great way for the band to end the busiest year of their short career and hopefully, a running start into 2004.