James Beeson, Sport Editor, was on hand to report as The Subways made a triumphant return to Exeter Cavern, ten years after their first appearance at the iconic underground venue…
After smashing their way onto the UK music scene back in 2004 with a hair-raising performance as an unsigned band at Glastonbury festival, The Subways have always been a band very much on the edge of the British consciousness; not quite big enough to hit the big time, but not quite small enough to fade into obscurity.
However, I’m pleased to inform you all that Billy Lunn and co. are very much alive and kicking, after an electric performance at Exeter’s Cavern on Tuesday evening.
The packed out crowd at the venue lent itself to the idea that this was a gig that was perhaps ever so slightly too small for a band of the stature of The Subways, a fact only confirmed by the confident swagger displayed by frontman Billy Lunn as he strolls onto the stage, addressing the crowd with an attitude which borders on arrogance,
‘Hellooo Exeter!’ he coos, ‘ Let me see those beautiful hands in the air!’ It is clear from the outset, that this is a band that understands and appreciates the demands of playing a live show. After ten years of touring, this experience shows, as Lunn hurtles into the opening number ‘Oh Yeah’ with such enthusiasm that it is almost impossible to join in with the sweaty throng of pundits dying to get their hands on their idol.
The zeal and enthusiasm displayed by the band is infectious, and it is evident that frontman Lunn and bassist Cooper are clearly humbled by the reception they receive from a devoted and wild audience.
The set is performed at an unrelenting pace, with the band only pausing to applaud the devotion and gusto displayed by their loyal fans. “You guys have gone… ape shit this evening” exclaims Lunn, who appeals genuinely touched by the reaction of the crowd.
Despite this, the band remain a slick and professional sound throughout the performance, interchanging old hits such as ‘Shake Shake’ and ‘Mary’ – a heartwarming and passionate number about Lunn’s mother – with new singles from their forthcoming album such as ‘My Heart is Pumping to a Brand New Beat.’
Making the (slightly odd) decision to play big hits ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’, which Lunn dedicates to ‘the craziest girl he knows’ (presumably Cooper) and ‘Rock and Roll Queen, midway through the set is a large risk, but it’s one which pays off massively, as the crowd retain their energy levels throughout the entirety of the hour or so long set.
Moreover, what is equally impressive about the performance is the response of the fans to the new material that the band performs. The mosh pits and cheers are equally as intense for new numbers such as ‘I’m in Love and it’s Burning in my Soul’ as they are for old hits such as ‘With You’ and ‘I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say.’ The audience is indiscriminate in its appreciation of what is a hugely impressive and dynamic set.
Yes, one could easily criticize The Subways for a lack of ambition, and yes, their musical style as developed little since the release of their debut album back in 2005. However, as one listens to their hordes of fans (the ‘craziest of the tour’ according to Lunn) belting out the lyrics of closing number ‘It’s A Party,’ it’s extremely hard not to join in and enjoy oneself.
As I stumble out of The Cavern, my ears ringing and my body bruised, it strikes me that although The Subways’ brand of whiney post-punk rock might not be for everyone’s, it’s difficult to argue that they don’t know how to put on a good show and entertain their fans. And at the end of the day, is there anything more important than that?
The Subways played:
My Heart is Pumping to a Brand New Beat
I Want to Hear What You’ve Got to Say
I Won’t Let You Down
I’m in Love and it’s Burning in my Soul
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Rock & Roll Queen
We Don’t Need Money to Have a Good Time
Dirty Muddy Paws
Taking All The Blame
It’s A Party