FOR a group that has shifted between elation and disintegration quicker than an alcoholic rattling in a coffee shop, Nottingham-born indie-pop quartet Amber Run may have finally found some unshakable ground. A genuine surprise for a group pitched brashly into the ever-unhealthy realms of the music industry prats after a negligible five gigs, discarded months later with just a release to show for it. Drummer leaves. Band broken.
But despite these damnatory position, they rode a wave. And this wave refuses to wilt. Armed with their debut album ‘For a Moment, I Was Lost’ – considering the frankness of frontman Joshua Keogh, no doubt a nod to those traumatic straying days – it came thundering in off the Solent and into the exacting surroundings of Southampton’s Engine Rooms.
Amber Run are a group destined for the commercial stomping ground they once had at their fingertips. It’s plainly all there. Like a series spin-off featuring The Kooks’ Luke Pritchard and James Bay with a soundtrack based on ‘Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends’ era Coldplay guitars, the sound of Amber Run is readymade for chart dominance and most likely industry acclaim. And most importantly, their support has never wavered.
Southampton’s show was the London-based group’s fourth sold-out show – a number ever likely to increase with eight more shows scheduled this month. And it’s not a surprise. It was banger central. Instantly ‘Sparks’ delivered the nerve-quivering sound of 500 people chanting “let the light in” under the glow of darting white light. ‘Fickle Game’ – another single from the debut, that sounded like a 2017-radio friendly version of the fabled Chris Isaak number – and ‘Perfect’ – a ballsy burst of northern psychedelia guitar cutting against the gritty heart of this out-of-character number – demonstrated the continued versatility of the debut, something the band were eager to explain had “hit the charts midweek, yeah whatever, I’ll put it in my toilet”.
But tonight was about those fans. Rewind back with the wrenching ‘5am’ and damaged ‘I Found’ soothers.
“We had no idea what Amber Run even was – we hadn’t given ourselves the time to understand what we wanted to be and where we wanted to go,” a recent introspective Facebook post reads on Amber Run’s homepage. “We weren’t even called Amber Run when we signed.”
And much like the statement – which goes on to add the band “don’t need to give a fuck about those things anymore” – the demons of sham promises and ill-judged advise have gone. Amber Run have found their identity. And for the majority, it’s a place they’ll enjoy.
Words by Clive Hammond