From the wasted disco balls of sell-out Japanese tours to the animated coercion of the teeming Reading Festival mosh pit, you wonder how The Subways breaking onto the comparably low-fi stage of The Green Room would have any weight on the band.
As part of the Red Stripe Bring It On Back series though, the throttling Herefordshire trio were back where it all started a mere five years ago; in their hometown playing to old friends, the odd auntie and the newly addicted adherents, with a sense of passion only reserved for the select, auspicious few.
“I remember standing on that stage with my acoustic guitar playing songs I’d written in my bedroom”, front man and lyricist Billy Lunn breathlessly shared after the show, still wired with a post-gig hum, continuing, “It’s so good to come back to these places to get perspective and remember, wow, we’re so lucky to be playing massive venues around the world”.
With new material dedicated to those who put them centre stage so many times; the extraordinarily voracious ‘California’ and the dynamitic riff-led next single ‘Girls And Boys’, their set was the fiery return to form a local populous commanded. After an almost three year gap since ‘Young For Eternity’, during which time the band came close to division due to Billy’s vocal trouble, seeing them unveil tracks from the forthcoming ‘All Or Nothing’ LP was all the humble few needed to invest themselves in a performance which rattled the cages of the introvert.
With zealously chaotic strings throughout ‘Mary’ and into the ballistic enterprise of ‘With You’ there was a scarce moment of respite; the ruthless pummel of Josh’s drum and the familiar feeling of Lunn’s scowling, instantly entrancing vocal; made the squat-ceilinged venue the most fundamentally important rock ‘n’ roll place to be in Britain.
Few bands can claim to be the articulate quintessence of what it means to be a truly archetypal rock ‘n’ roll band of the modern era, from their Transgressive cut of ‘1 Am’, they’ve led a generation from the 60’s-esque pre-punk world of manifesting power-pop, into the eloquent shake of their new, more direct sound. To illustrate the dynamism of The Subways on stage one must understand that they are a band very much built on their menacing reputation as a live act and that most proper rock bands you’ve seen won’t have had this calibre of engagement; their ability to make you feel adolescent in excitement delightfully exhilarating.
For a band who this time last year were on the proverbial ropes, to once again personifying what it means to badger a guitar in Britain today, it’s overwhelming to find faiths reinstated in the bewildered aftermath of the uncontrollably enlivening expend. The Subways live routine simply never fails to change your life, this intimate and lifting show being an absolute model of the upstarts at their most enjoyably hardcore, effortlessly offering themselves on their sleeves.