Gig Review: The Subways
Shepherds Bush Empire, September 12
Its been a while coming, joked a breathless Billy Lunn half way through The Subways blistering set at the Shepherds Bush Empire last night (Sept 12).
He wasnt exaggerating. The gig was originally scheduled for April this year, but just days before the date Billy was diagnosed with nodules on his vocal chords " a potentially career-ending affliction for a rock n roll frontman. Frustratingly, they had to cancel gigs across Europe and the US, disastrous for a new band touring their first album. Subways fans everywhere held their breath.
But last night Billy, Charlotte and Josh proved theyre back in business, and from the rapt attention of the crowd it seems theyve lost none of their momentum. Hows my voice sounding? the frontman asked at one point. Better than ever, judging by the response from the West London hordes.
And they havent been twiddling their thumbs during their break. We were treated to four new tracks from the new record, the highlights being California and Girls and Boys.
All three were as charismatic on stage as ever. From the opening chords of fans favourite With You to the dying moments of the glorious Rock and Roll Queen finale (which the crowd had been screaming for all night), Billy and Charlotte bounded across the stage with seemingly limitless energy. At times Charlottes hair resembled a car wash so frenzied was her head banging, and Billy twice gamely dived from the stage into the expectant arms of the crowd. Even drummer Josh joined in with some crowd surfing of his own, trashing his drum kit in the process and sending roadies scurrying to resurrect it in time for the next track.
But the nights pinnacle was a moment of sheer rock n roll lunacy. Mid way through Rock and Roll Queen, stripped to the waist, Billy left the stage, with Charlotte and Josh playing on. Seconds later he appeared on the first level balcony, running through the crowd as they reached out to grab him. And not to let down the fans in the cheaper seats he continued his mad dash to the upper levels.
Then, reappearing on the first level, he climbed onto the balconys edge and teetered precariously above the crowd - a good 18 feet below. For the first time in the night the fans quietened down. Surely he wasnt going to but then he did. Arms outstretched, he dived onto the masses below who, despite his slender frame, initially buckled under the pressure. For a second it was impossible to tell whether hed been injured or not, but then he was up, on top of the crowd and surfing back towards the stage where nervy-looking bouncers dragged him to safety.
I feel like Ive just run a marathon! he exclaimed, before finishing the song and ending what had been an explosive gig. It might have been a while coming, but boy was it worth the wait.