LIVE REVIEW: MARTHA, RADIATOR HOSPITAL, CRUMBS @ EMPTY SHOP, DURHAM (08.11.15) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Pity Me pop-punk quartet Martha had sold out their hometown show at Durham’s Empty Shop weeks in advance of the start of a fifteen date tour with US label mates Radiator Hospital.

Excitement was rife amongst fans who were crammed into the speakeasy-like bar of Empty Shop for pre-show drinks. A solitary red light lit the way for everyone to quickly scurry along the creaky wood floorboards and into the main room, hailed by the sound of lo-fi punk band Crumbs who were opening up the evening’s proceedings.

Instantly grabbing everyone’s stomping heels and nodding heads, the constant rhythmic pulse moved the crowd in sync with Gem’s simple drumming. Songs were short, simple, catchy and a lot of fun with Ruth’s vocal easy to relate too. The DIY punk band also had great stage presence, sporting angular haircuts and vintage shop attire; their songs and image reminiscent to the chic of early Pulp.

Radiator Hospital from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania are a power pop-punk band with a generous following on both sides of the pond. People swarmed forward to be amongst the cramped action as the opening track oozed professionalism in sound and presence, with effortlessly strumming through tight wall-like unison riffs. Front-man Sam’s distinct vocal style has the cut of Billy Corgan and the melodic tuning ear of Walter Schreifels; a unique and pleasantly raw experience which comes across well live, as well as on record, especially in contrast with Cynthia’s eased harmonies.

Crowd favourites Cut Your Bangs and Our Song had the front rows singing joyously, whilst the notable Your Boyfriend’s stark opening paved the way for everyone to jump ecstatically once the band crashed in for the chorus and continued wild guitar solo, with Sam smashing all the notes at the same time. On-stage crowd banter between songs was humorous, with a few bad jokes courtesy of drummer Jeff providing this loud pop-punk show with an overall intimate feel; embellishing further the venue’s appeal, the bands’ performances and the audience’s connection – who were now all emphatically warmed up and ready for the local headliners.

Martha blast straight into their set, the compact crowd alight with excitement and bouncing over uneasy floorboards. The band’s distinct and stark indie pop-punk sound cuts through everyone’s cheers and shouts as they sing along. Vocal harmonies and interweaving melodies between Naomi, Nathan, JC and Daniel are a signature of Martha’s sound, with tracks such as Cosmic Misery displaying this effortlessly tonight. A flurry of fans jump up and down joyously in time and in full voice as the band break into crowd pleaser Present, Tense.

As the evening continued to ascend in pure pop-punk enjoyment, so did the crowd’s energy levels, with Martha whipping the now slightly saturated audience into a further frenzy with 1997, Passing In The Hallway featuring Naomi’s hookable melody.

The insanity and intensity was then turned firmly to 11, with the announcement of the aptly named Move To Durham And Never Leave, which struck up at break neck speed as Nathan’s high pitched scream caused the crowd to erupt into a euphoric state of knocking each other about and punching fists high in the air.

The DIY music scene across Durham is evidently growing at a ferocious pace judging by tonight’s sold out show. The venue, the bands and the audience were a perfect fit for one another; as evidenced by not only the amount of sweat dripping from the walls, but from the swathes of people exiting with armfuls of vinyl and t-shirts, happily drenched, ears ringing and infectious tunes still spinning around their heads.

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