We went to see Hadouken! tonight, at the start of their tour run in Norwich. A few words about the venue first. The Norwich Waterfront is a lovely venue. The UEA’s ‘medium’ sized venue, but in real terms an intimate space, holds 700 at capacity. The gig wasn’t sold out so there was plenty of room. It was our second time to this venue and we really like it because – for such a small venue – it has such a wide stage. This means that the crowd is nicely spread out, so even if you are at the very back you are still only actually about 12 rows from the front. Meanwhile, it is nice and easy to get near(ish) to the very front if you want. The drinks are very fairly priced. Overall, it’s a lovely venue. One point it could improve; over-zealous security staff whose only objective seems to be stopping anyone from having any fun. The Norwich crowd can also be relied upon for being ‘nice’. We still don’t quite understand “the rules” of the mosh pit, despite spending half our night there, and we know that our friend Ricey wouldn’t consider a Hadouken! mosh pit a ‘proper’ mosh pit, but it was done really nicely and without anyone being stupid. Also when our laces came undone and we needed to bend over and sort them out, someone covered us nicely and made sure we were OK. Amazing.
On to the music. We took a gamble driving the 100-odd mile round journey, as although we were distinctly underwhelmed by the band’s new album, we knew that things would be considerably different ‘live’. Well – they were and they weren’t. We still don’t like Bad Signal or Bliss Out. The latter, at least, with James’ vocals a lot louder in the mix than on record, sounded far better. But Hadouken! are really the epitome of an act which is all about the live experience. As already stated, James sounds a lot better in person than on record – partly because he is probably mixed down on record, and partly because of the way he screams. Some things just are better in person. As for the rest of the band… well they seemed a bit pointless to us. Nothing was notably different at all to the way it sounds on record. We thought there might be a bit more of an edgy or rockier sound to the new material. No such luck.
Set-list wise, Hadouken! know exactly what they are doing. They got the split of new and older tracks just right, but more importantly, they knew when to galvanize the crowd with an old favourite. The encore aside, set-list was pretty much perfect. The other thing to note at this stage is how Hadouken!s material is able to mesh together very nicely. Other than in terms of crowd reaction, it probably wouldn’t be obvious to an outsider which tracks were from the first and second albums. This gave a nice flow to the first half of the gig in particular, with one tune coming immediately after the other. The choice of songs for the encore seemed a bit baffling. No Liquid Lives, which wasn’t played earlier on, and Parasite as the closer?
Hadouken! also know what they are doing with the lights. They make amazing use of lazers. This is literally our top lighting requirement for gigs. If lazers are included, we’re pretty much convinced that the gig was amazing. If they are omitted, we feel the gig was missing a certain something. More importantly though, is the fact that when you’re dancing (or skanking, as is more appropriate to their new dubstep-influenced tunes) to music like Hadouken!, you want club-style lights. You want flashing lights and lazers and smoke. Yes, Hadouken! had it all. It also had the effect, particularly for the first few songs but also utilised later, of leaving the band just in silhouette form. This was an epic feast for the eyes. A band like Hadouken! probably know that it’s not all about having themselves in the spotlight the whole time. It’s about crowd experience. Great lights, Hadouken!
Banter with the crowd was OK. There was far too much mention of a banana straw, which grew tedious after about 5 seconds. James was drinking vodka and Sprite ZERO!!! Living the crazy rockstar lifestyle there. The crowd at Norwich were perhaps not as crazy as Hadouken! would like, so maybe it’s that too. Only one band member other than James spoke. James’ mouth is very filth: we’re not sure whether we like being addressed as ‘motherf***ers’ very much. He said that he didn’t mind if we illegally downloaded the album, as we went to the gig, so we were allowed. How nice of him.
The support act, Proxies, was decent enough. Their lead singer looked like someone we vaguely know, albeit with messy curly hair, and they were Northern. Musically they reminded us of a poor man’s Funeral for a Friend. Their keyboard player has a crazy moustache and it was his birthday. Happy birthday Greg!
Ultimately, the success or failure of a gig with a band like Hadouken! comes down to the crowd on the night. The Norwich crowd were good, but could have done more to facilitate a better time for all. Nonetheless, there was a lovely moment during ‘Get Smashed Gatecrash’ when we turned to our left and started singing ‘we are the wasted youth…we are the future too’ to a complete stranger – everyone else was singing along too. It somehow felt, at that moment, like Hadouken! are a bit of a ‘poster band’ for the wasted youth. With youth NEET figures soaring so high, and binge-drinking and drug culture well and truly ahold of the nation, at that moment in time everything just seemed to make sense. Everyone singing along… It was one of those special ‘gig moments’.
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