On Saturday 17th November, REWS came back to Birmingham, rounding off their five date UK tour at The Flapper in Birmingham – with local support from MeMe Detroit, alongside Marshall Records label mate Thousand Thoughts.
Now it’s no secret that both Birmingham and Birmingham Review love REWS, with the alt-rock duo having had some stellar sell out shows in this city over the past year; needless to say we were a little ‘Christmas come early’. But this evening was another step up, with REWS playing to their biggest headline crowd in the city to date – packing the rafters at the iconic canal side music venue, with barely enough room left to swing/swig a shot of rum. Or see, if you’re a under 6ft…
Luckily some of us were born with the gift of height and managed to get through the crowds – to check out the full Flicker of pics from Phil Drury, of all bands on the bill, click here.
We also had a new reporter in the crowd, to give you a fresh narrative thread to hold on to whilst you peruse THE GALLERY – so dust off your best Meryl Streep internal monologue, sit back, reminisce or relive, and welcome Emma Curzon to Casa Review de la Brummagem. Ah, those misty water coloured memories… come back and see us soon REWS.
In an atrocious betrayal of student-kind, I must admit I’m not overly acquainted with the world of alt-rock. I was given, however, a very promising introduction into it on Saturday 17th November. The gig was headlined by London/Belfast duo REWS and hosted by Birmingham Review/Metropolis Music, at the cosy-yet-mysterious canal side pub The Flapper.
The line-up held solid performances throughout the night – although I was never quite enraptured by Thousand Thoughts, who opened the evening. They were good, but not spectacular. Still, I was genuinely touched by ‘Be Frank’ – a more tender, sedate number pleading to the addressee to open up about their mental health struggles.
The recently renamed four piece are a new signing to Marshall Records – becoming label mates and tour support for the night’s headliners – and are arguably still finding their feet. No doubt we’ll get to see them again next time they pass through the city. Plus, as mentioned, I’m not the biggest devotee of alt-rock… so mix these words well before baking and add just a pinch of salt.
Next up, local support MeMe Detroit (plus her band) gave the room a huge energy boost – at one point, we are ordered to “sing your fucking hearts out”. Amen to that.
On the cusp of releasing her Life in the Now EP, MeMe Detroit gave a commendable performance – one both heartfelt and dynamic (my personal highlight was the refrain of ‘Love Transcends All Again’) – and threw herself into it with much head-banging and dancing, at one point taking her guitar for a quick dash through the audience.
However, the best was definitely saved for last. With their slick onstage outfits, REWS’ would not have looked out of place alongside the cast of a Disney Channel musical – but once they started it became obvious: Shauna Tohill and Collette Williams most certainly did not come to just play at being rock stars.
Williams played the drums with the poise and precision of a concert pianist, but still positively exploding with enthusiasm and vigour. Meanwhile Tohill’s skill, and more importantly her passion, shone through in every note – as she threw her whole body into her performance, making it even more of a joy to watch.
Their opening songs probably showed this to the greatest effect and were my favourite part of the entire night. The audience appeared to agree – many were clearly veteran fans and sang along with great enthusiasm, the sudden energy boost as obvious as it was catching. The best was one of their oldest tracks but most recent single, ‘Can You Feel It?’ – a straight and simple rock anthem with frequent repetition, but of joyous, inspiring lyrics telling us to “Dance like no-one’s watching” and creating a rousing crowd-pleaser full of infectious joie-de-vivre.
Other well recognised tracks from the REWS repertoire, such ‘Death Yawn’ and ‘Shake Shake’, got a similarly ferocious response. Although a few of the set’s latter (and possibly newer?) songs didn’t land quite as well, missing some of the intensity that made the more well-versed numbers so enjoyable. REWS did, however, throw in a cover of 4 Non Blonde’s ‘What’s Up?’ that pushed the room to an almost health and safety challenging fever pitch – a new set addition Williams had alluded to in a recent interview with Birmingham Review.
So, my verdict: I’m still wouldn’t call myself an alt-rock aficionado, but if I was ever to have an introduction to the genre this was a good night for it. And I’d love to see REWS perform again, considering the band have ended their last two UK tours in Birmingham there’s a fingers crossed chance we may all get to as well. I’d better brush up, now where’s that’s copy of Kerrang! gone…
REWS – with support from MeMe Detroit + Thousand Thoughts @ The Flapper 17.11.18 / Phil Drury & Callum Lees
For more on REWS, visit www.rewsmusic.com
For more on MeMe Detroit, visit www.memedetroit.com
For more on Thousand Thoughts, visit www.facebook.com/TThoughtsMusic
For from The Flapper, including venue details and further event listings, visit www.theflapper.co.uk
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