Amber Run say ‘Amen’’ to Newcastle: Live Concert Review

Katie Knepper reviews a memorable performance from Amber Run at Wylam Brewery.

Katie Knepper
21st October 2019
Image- Flickr
Alternative indie-rock band, Amber Run, hit the stage at Newcastle’s Wylam Brewery on 8th October to showcase their third and latest album, Philophobia, on their UK and US tour.

As the name suggests, their 2019 album explores the feelings and fears of being in love. This up-and-coming band can be likened to Kodaline or Mumford & Sons in terms of their similar British folk music style. The trio consists of lead singer Joshua “Joe” Keogh, bass guitarist Tom Sperring and Henry Wyeth on the keyboard.

The night began with a performance from their supporting act, Stereo Honey. Apprehensively, lead vocalist Pete Restrick took to the stage and was greeted by Newcastle’s welcoming cheers. Stereo Honey played their latest single, ‘You Are A Monster’, which was only released four days prior to the concert. This exclusive performance filled the venue with energy and excitement. The impressive vocal range and piercing falsetto quality to Pete’s voice certainly prepared the audience for what was to come...

Following the well-received opening act, the audience anxiously waited for Amber Run. As the band set foot on stage, the crowd erupted into exclamations of excitement. Without hesitation, Amber Run opened their set with ‘Neon Circus’ – an upbeat track with a heavy bridge and gritty baseline from their 2019 album, Philophobia. The band then proceeded to play songs from all three of their albums including: ‘Just My Soul Responding’ from their 2015 album 5am and ‘Insomniac’ from their 2017 album For a moment, I was lost.

Image: Carl Smith Valdez

The 2019 hit, ‘What Could Be As Lonely As Love’, encapsulates the theme of the album, Philophobia, as it explores the idea that you can’t control your own feelings or other people’s feelings. Despite the heavier rock style, there is a melancholic quality to the track which is evident in the lyrics, “I’m okay, I’m doing fine – the greatest lie ever told”. This juxtaposition was effective as it reflects the challenges of being in a toxic relationship.

A standout moment was when Amber Run invited Pete Restrick from Stereo Honey on stage. Together, they sang the soul-bearing song ‘Affection’ which explores the conflicting emotions of unintentionally falling in love with someone. Harmonising perfectly together, Joe and Pete’s  on-stage relationship appeared just as genuine as it was off-stage.

A truly memorable moment of the night was the performance of the song ‘Amen’. This painfully beautiful song expresses the raw emotions of pain and grief following the death of a loved one. Admirably, Joe Keogh openly spoke about how he wrote this bittersweet ballad as a eulogy for his grandfather. This emotional turmoil of pain and regret was captured in Keogh’s chilling vocals which cut through the moments of silence and stirred the captivated crowd.

Musically, this acoustic acapella style song predominantly focused on Keogh’s vocals. The lack of instrumentation was highly effective as it exposed the raw emotions and somber melody. Lyrically, the pure and simple sentences, for example “sometimes I’d rather be dead, at least them I’m with you”, provides a sense of vulnerability. This hit close to home and was enough to bring anyone to tears.

As the final note rang through the room there was a short pause of silence before a warm applause rippled through the crowd. However this dark lull did not last long as Amber Run proceeded to play their up-beat 2018 single, ‘Carousel’. Strong solos from bass guitarist Tom Sperring and the intense pinging of Henry Wyeth’s keyboard instantly livened up the crowd. Their electric stage presence filled the venue with adrenaline. Whilst this contrast was slightly jarring, the balance of slow and fast tempo invited the audience on an emotional roller-coaster.

One of the last songs of Amber Run’s set was their 2014 debut song, ‘Noah’. This understated track features a catchy chorus which has the capability of connecting a room full of strangers. In unison, the crowd chanted and cheered to the beat. Joe Keogh then teased the audience by announcing the band would play three en core songs.

Finally, Amber Run played ‘Haze’, ‘No Answers’ and their highly anticipated 2014 hit single, ‘I Found’. The night ended on a high as the crowd erupted into an ecstatic applause which lasted well after Amber Run had left the stage.

It was a truly euphoric experience.


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