London’s historic Scala venue sees an early-evening show at the lighter end of punk rock, with doors opening at 6 pm and curfew at 9:45 pm, it’s a gig for grown-up punks. The music on display fits the bill, with straight-up rockers Cold Years sandwiched between the folk-tinged punk alumni Dave Hause and Drew Thomson.
Opening up tonight under the guise of The Drew Thomson Foundation is in fact just Drew Thomson himself performing acoustically. His unique voice complete with heavy Canadian twang dances over relatively simple guitar chords, but this doesn’t detract from the appeal of the folk music on offer. When returning to the stage later tonight to play with Dave Hause and full band, the music shines through more than when performed solo, but it’s still an enjoyable opening to the gig.
Here’s The Drew Thomson Foundation’s ode to sobriety with “Pace Yourself.”
Hailing from Aberdeen, Scotland, Cold Years manage to blend the accessibility of Welshmen Stereophonics with the nostalgic feel of New Jersey’s The Gaslight Anthem in their guitar-driven rock. Vocalist and guitarist Ross Gordon’s rasping voice harmonizes perfectly with bassist Louis Craighead’s, whilst Finlay Urquhart’s lead guitar lines add colour to the driving music beneath. It’s a confident and consummate performance put on with genuine enjoyment on the faces of the band, and one which gets the gathering crowd fully energized for tonight’s headlining act. Cold Years are an extremely promising group on the UK scene, and with a slew of EPs but no album yet under their belt, they seem set to go from strength to strength.
Check out the official music video for “Miss You To Death” for a taste of Cold Years’ quality.
Flanked tonight by his longtime backing band The Mermaid, Dave Hause opens his set with “The Ditch,” a surprisingly upbeat track about his battle with depression. The lyrics, “If I can’t make it out of this ditch, I better make a home of it” will ring true to many tonight, and as with all of Hause’s lyrics it’s his sincerity which is at their core. As would be expected on this tour, Hause’s April release, Kick, gets plenty of airtime in tonight’s set, but with a back catalogue as enviable as Hause’s, there’s also a plethora of top-quality punk rock on display. Occasionally influenced more by Americana, occasionally folk, sometimes country leaning, but all led by Hause’s distinctive voice and catchy songwriting.
Playing alongside Hause (Dave) tonight, as with many nights, is his brother and long-time collaborator Tim Hause who adds harmonized vocals and lead guitar full of feeling. With “Civil Lies” allowing Tim’s voice to take center stage, it demonstrates the excellently high level of musical talent amongst The Mermaid, showcased also by keyboardist and vocalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy who is superb in a rousing rendition of “Warpaint.” Guitarist and backing vocalist Matt Olsson and drummer Kevin Conroy complete tonight’s lineup, who together put on a flawless performance, apart from some slight technical issues with Hause’s guitar during the opening track. When joined for a few tracks by Hause’s father on guitar and vocals, it shows an especially strong community between all on stage and that chemistry is shared with all in the audience tonight.
When the set hits tracks which invite the crowd to join in even louder such as “C’mon Kid” and “With You” the band’s vocals are drowned out and it feels like the roof is about to be lifted off of the packed Scala room. It takes a very special songwriter to be able to evoke the emotion in ballads such as “Fireflies” one moment and get the audience bouncing from front to back the next with more energetic numbers, but this is the special ability which Dave Hause has in abundance. The performance tonight is Hause at the peak of his powers and reinforces him as a must-see on the touring circuit whenever he comes around.
Hear about Hause making a home in “The Ditch” with this song off his new record Kick.
Hause’s latest record, Kick, was released on April 12th via Rise Records.