If you’ve been following their recent activity, then you’d know that there is a sense of excitement around The Xcerts right now. As they put the final touches to album #4, ‘Hold On To Your Heart’, the Brighton-based trio have headed out on a UK tour to tease us some more before its early 2018 release.
Joining them for the ride is fellow Brightonians Big Spring. With just a handful of singles to their name, various supporting slots and festival spots continue to enhance their status. Tonight they’re stylistically hard to pin down; tight groove-filled riffs with a subtle grunge-tinged rawness. Recent single, ‘Cold Foot’, thrives on a thick bass line and twisting melodies led by Ollie Loring. Throughout he eases into the role of frontman with a confident vocal display, reaching high notes with ease, especially on forthcoming single – ‘Coming Down’. Although it’s clear Big Spring are a good band, they lack a lasting identity yet songs such as ‘5th of July’ show their potential. (2.5/5)
By the time The Xcerts enter, the room is fuller as frontman Murray MacLeod says “let’s have fun” before launching into recent single ‘Daydream’. With plenty of urgency, it’s a solid introduction to the next chapter of The Xcerts. A roll of older cuts; ‘I Don’t Care’, ‘Live Like This’ and ‘Kids on Drugs’ bring the crowd alive as Macleod conducts them to sing along with a beaming smile. While ‘Distant Memory’ allows him to demonstrate his powerful, soaring voice while drummer Tom Heron and bassist Jordan Smith provide an effective rhythm section throughout.
In terms of airing new material, both ‘First Kiss Feeling’ and ‘Show Me Beautiful’ fit the 80s teen movie soundtrack vibe that the trio has spoken about in recent months. The former is a bouncy, energetic number, with ‘Show Me Beautiful’ taking a slower, harmonious route with Jordan supplying soothing keys.
While they may be looking towards the future, The Xcerts don’t abandon their past with old favourites ‘Crisis In the Slow Lane’, ‘Slackerpop’ and ‘Shaking In The Water’ padding out the set in a favourable fashion. In between all that, a stripped-back version of ‘Pop Song’ sees Macleod alone, putting the spotlight on his compelling songwriting. Likewise ‘There Is Only You’ is as poignant and powerful as ever as it rounds the main set. In regards to Macleod, if it’s flanked by Smith and Heron or by himself, he has the ability to capture the crowd’s attention through his charisma and songwriting prowess.
As for the encore, ‘Aberdeen 1987’ sees the crowd singing in unison during its chorus, before ‘Feel Like Falling In Love’ closes the night on a heartfelt high. Its radiance continues to shine bright, no matter how many times we’ve heard it since its release this summer.
It’s been said dozens of times but you have to question why the hell The Xcerts aren’t headlining to bigger, packed-out rooms? They have a catalogue of stellar songs that are on par, or even better, then some of “Brit Rock”’s leading bands. All being well, ‘Hold On To Your Heart’ has all the makings of being that “breakthrough” record. (4.5/5)
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)