On Tuesday, music fans in Liverpool were joined by three guests from across the Atlantic; from Nova Scotia, Canada came Alvvays and from New Jersey, USA, Real Estate. The third, less welcome guest was the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo who made travelling to The Kazimier an unpleasant experience. However, fans were not afraid to brave the wind to make a packed out Kazimier.
The night kicked off with indie-pop five piece Alvvays (pronounced “always”), for whom it was the first time in Liverpool. After the release of their eponymous debut album in July of this year, and after a considerable amount of airplay on BBC Radio 6 Music, in particular the single “Archie, Marry Me”, many were excited to hear them.
The band opened up with “Atop a Cake” and their stage presence may have appeared timid to some, however this need not have been the case as their performance was supported by well crafted songs with beautifully catchy melodies. Highlights of the performance, for me, would be “Next of Kin” and “Archie, Marry Me”, the latter being particularly well received by the audience. Although they may not posses the same stage presence as some bands, they are still at the beginning of their career and have demonstrated great songwriting abilities, hopefully suggesting there’s more good things to come from Alvvays.
Real Estate opened with “Wonder Years” sung by bassist Alex Bleeker, after this, lead vocalist Martin Courtney took over singing duties for the rest of the gig. The band demonstrated their dedication and innovation with regard to creating the perfect sound to suit their songs early on. In particular the song “Past Lives”, where drummer Jackson Pollis placed T-shirts over his drum skins and combined the use of a standard drumstick and a timpani stick, adding a fantastically interesting percussive element to the track. The instantly recognisable opening bar of recent single, “Talking Backwards”, from their latest album Atlas was greeted with rapturous applause by the crowd.
Their songwriting is flawless, however the listening experience is clearly augmented by the laid-back, understated way in which they perform; each member knows their place and knows their instrument so well as to be able to make a judgement on exactly how much is enough. By no means does this mean that they are lacking in presence: when Matt Mondanile (lead guitar) plays a solo he is sure to be heard but does not intrude on the laid-back groove which the rest of the band are creating; he plays the right notes at the right time, leaving space to breathe within the music.
If I had to choose, personal highlights would be “Green Aisles” and “Easy” from Days because of the beautiful vocal harmonies which the complement the lyrics so well in both songs. However, given such a high standard of songwriting, these songs by no means stand head-and-shoulders above the rest, as I’m sure anyone who has enjoyed any of Real Estate’s three albums to date would agree; a high standard is maintained throughout their recorded material, and as it seems, their live material as well.