‘Continually seamless showmanship and a stampede of hit-affirming tracks made it an incredible set!’
Continuing a trend that seems to be becoming more regular than not, the discovery of Chasing Deer only came about through meeting lead vocalist Rob at the MALMØ show in February. Sure, I may have come across them at some point, but listening to their tracks afterwards it was a sound that I wanted to hear live. Therefore, with an invitation to their gig at The Hope and Anchor, Saturday 23rd February I hoped the performance would up to the sound itself. Spoiler alert: they more than delivered.
Giving off a sense of professionalism even in their set up, the anticipation within the venue built to a level equalled only by the sound sweeping through the PA system. Generating a ‘Live at the Apollo’ feel, a pre-recorded tannoy style announcement welcomed them to the stage and heading straight into ‘Miracle’, you knew the performance was going be even something incredible. Mid-tempo in nature, it was a somewhat surprising opening track However, the controlled musicality perfectly showcased the rhythmic content, soaring guitar lines, on-stage communication and the seamless switching from chest to falsetto in Rob’s vocal that would become increasingly apparent during the set.
Treating us to a forthcoming track, Miracle was followed up by the strut-inducing ‘Limbo.’ Immediately taking us away from the almost relaxed sound of the opener, the sense of stage-craft from not just lead vocalist Rob but also drummer Adam and guitarist Peter really came to the fore. No more evident than when they spontaneously joined together with additional, syncopated percussion centred rhythms, it was clear the fun was only just beginning. However, while this level of presence could have detracted from the track itself, it instead shifted it even higher proving it is sure to be another hit when released.
Swiftly disappearing stage left to return with the most 80’s of instruments – a keytar – Rob announced the next track’s title. ‘This one’s Another World.’ Truth be told, this was the track I wanted to hear live. This was the track that I heard first and wanted more. This was, indeed the track I had found on YouTube and seen the potential energy that there could be in the venue. And wow did they deliver! Taking us appropriately to another sound – one that was a world away from the previous tracks – the room and the band themselves burst into life.
With shameless improvisations, driving rhythms and infectious riffs the musicality hit full throttle and with synchronised movements in the chorus from Rob and Peter, so did the showmanship. A treat for the eyes and ears doesn’t begin to even cover it! However, in an attempt to be outdone by their own musicality, the follow up track ‘Colour My World’ featuring rock based guitar, superbly projected, gently earwormy lyrics and disco-style off-beat high hat, proved how much they can channel influences and make them sound as one.
Ensuring that the theme of minimal breaks between tracks continued, and in a further nod to the professionalism of Chasing Deer, the ending of ‘Colour My World’ saw Rob head off stage, remove the keytar and return in a matter of seconds. Prepping for the next track, ‘Silence Hurts’ you couldn’t fail to notice just how seamless everything was. And it really was.
Built around pre-recorded tracks as well as live instruments, the timing had to be spot on and with Adam’s drumming as tight as anything, there was little chance of it not being that way. Likewise, the follow up track ‘Out of Time’ showcased how every element works as one. Providing the blend of more restrained, almost laid back musicality, soaring vocals and accented, movement-encouraging rhythms, it was never going to feel out of place or dare I say it, out of time.
Following a break in the plethora of original tracks with a sublime cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop,’ the trio returned to their 2018 releases with the tom-tom led ‘Perfect Storm.’ Based around all of Chasing Deer’s hallmarks, the emphasis on melodic and rhythmic content having equal prominence was truly on display meaning the musicality literally spoke for itself. However, just as we found ourselves appreciating the more half-tempo sound, the energy was about to get the biggest of kick-starts.
With Rob casting his mic stand aside and stating to Adam: ‘Take Me Up’ Peter’s opening rock guitar lick broke through the relative calm in the room. Woah! Where did that come from? To say it was a dramatic shift would be a huge understatement and swiftly joined by drums, you knew it was heading somewhere spectacular. Literally going up more than just ‘a level,’ by the time the harmonically set title lyrics arrived – only to be followed by an explosive guitar solo to rival the best of improvisations – the whole place was really rocking. And as for Rob’s vocal, well with the added freedom, it was on fire.
Capitalising on the atmosphere generated with what would be the penultimate track, the anthemic power-house nature of ‘Against the Night’ made us dig deep into our reserves. Musically giving us everything we wanted via it’s pounding drums and further sublime lyricism, you couldn’t resist helping Chasing Deer try to lift the pub above from the basement we were in. The wall of sound was just immense! However, compared to the double-time feel of the final track ‘Placebo’ it was nothing. Put it this way, I’m surprised the Hope and Anchor’s still standing!