Liverpool Arts Club Presents: Young Guns
It’s been years since British rockers Young Guns last graced the stages of Liverpool. Now they’re back, and better than ever. This is the way gigs are meant to be: small, loud, and packed to the rafters. Hardcore fans make a beeline for the barricade while the stage is still bare. I feel sure that someone, somewhere is going to start a mosh pit sometime soon. I just pray that it won’t be behind me.
The main act is preceded by the lesser known (but still excellent) Blitz Kids, who quickly win the crowd over with their melodic alt-rock, and their Young Guns song puns (or, ‘Young Puns’…shudder). They’re certainly a band worth their salt; having previously opened for some big names such as Mayday Parade and All Time Low, Blitz Kids have earned a large and growing fan-base, some of which is clearly in the audience tonight. They soon have a large chunk of us singing along to favourites such as Sometimes, Perfect, and their 2015 release Keep Swinging. They’re the perfect warm-up act: charismatic, witty, and full of energy. It’s an awesome start to a great evening.
After a long, restless break, the crowd are yearning for more. The anticipation in the air is palpable; it’s excitement for the new mixed with nostalgia for the old. And finally, we get our wish; the lights dim, and Young Guns make their entrance to the sound of feverish screams and cheers. Here comes round two.
After five years of gigging, Gustav Wood is clearly an experienced frontman. He gets the crowd going almost immediately, as they open with some familiar greats. The fast-paced, beat-heavy Towers has us defying gravity – literally, the whole room is almost jumping in unison. It’s overwhelmingly hot and I have to leap several feet to see anything over the sea of heads but I don’t care – this is awesome.
A fabulously catchy hook soon introduces their old, much-loved hit Dearly Departed. The soaring, heartfelt vocals accompanied by the steady, melodic chugging clearly exhibits their talents in the area of alt-rock – an area to which they are by no means confined. They prove this again and again throughout the show. Lately, Young Guns have become pretty eclectic with their style: something they are obviously proud of. And they have reason to be; whatever they do, they do it well, and with sublime showmanship.
I catch a further, much-appreciated gust of nostalgia as they play maybe the best-known release off of their debut album (All Our Kings Are Dead, 2010): the unforgettable Crystal Clear. It’s cynical and angst-ridden, but laid out the band’s agenda perfectly from the onset: they were determined to succeed against all odds. And now here they are, five years later, playing to a crowd hanging on their every word (and note). They’ve made it – that much is crystal clear.
Young Guns’ energy and stamina are something to be commended; through the changes in pace, mood, and even genre, they never falter. The guitar and bass riffs come quick and strong as ever; the drums are infallibly earth-shattering. Gustav effortlessly alternates between the roles of singer and keyboardist. Together, they have an energy and chemistry which is impossible to fake and difficult to maintain – yet they somehow manage to keep it going.
New tracks Rising Up and Speaking in Tongues have a notably more electro-rock vibe than their earlier material. It’s a risk – introducing new stuff at gig always is, especially when it’s so different from the old – but they pull it off. They’re clearly a band of guys who aren’t afraid of experimentation – something they can only be saluted for. Pigeon-holes are dangerous things to get stuck in, and, with their diverse material, this seems to be a fate that Young Guns absolutely refuse to chance.
Finally, the band round off the performance with perhaps their most famous release to date: the amazing Bones. The infamous intro guitar riff and drum beat announces their finale number, and is greeted with ecstatic uproar. It’s been a night to remember: Young Guns have ended the first leg of their tour with an almighty bang.
Hear more from Young Guns: the band’s third album, Ones and Zeros, will be released on the 8th June. Their new single, Speaking in Tongues, is available now. Also read: Natalie’s interview with Gustav Wood.