LIVE: We Are Scientists / Bleach Lab – Birmingham O2 Institute, 01/03/2023

LIVE: We Are Scientists / Bleach Lab – Birmingham O2 Institute, 01/03/2023

It’s been only 15 months since We Are Scientists were here in this exact same room, touring their album at the time, Huffy. Now with a brand new record, Lobes under their belts, (their fifth in nine years), they are back and have brought along Bleach Lab to open up for them for good measure.

The London band has been getting positive press recently with the release of their If You Only Feel It Once EP, the latest in a growing catalogue of increasingly excellent releases. They kick off with the EP’s opening track ‘I Could Be Your Safe Place’ and deliver 30 minutes of sublime sounds, singer Jenna Kyle’s laid back vocals the perfect foil for the chiming guitar of Frank Wates – imagine Hope Sandoval fronting The Sundays and you would be somewhere near the majesty of Bleach Lab. And yes, they are as good as that!

Bleach Lab

We Are Scientists meanwhile are as chipper as ever; anyone who goes to their shows will appreciate that their onstage back-and-forth is a major part of their appeal. Singer / guitarist Keith Murray announces that the Birmingham audience is “beautiful to look upon” as soon as they have dispensed with their first couple of songs, the relatively gentle opener of the new record’s ‘Lucky Just To Be Here’ and ‘No Wait At Five Leaves’ , from the arguably somewhat overlooked 2018 album, Megaplex. Murray and his long-time band mate, bass player Chris Cain, never fail to have the audience in their metaphorical palms, enquiring how many people are here in Digbeth on holiday, which is quite a thought. This small part of the Second City is happily still crammed with amazing venues though, so maybe they are onto something there!

However, the playful interludes don’t distract from the fact that We Are Scientists are a band going from strength to strength, their albums are packed with sharp, smart tunes and they show no sign of letting up. Much-loved debut With Love And Squalor provides four songs for tonight’s show, an incendiary ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ (one of the band’s five Top 40 hits) is thrown in as early as the fourth song, while ‘The Great Escape’ (another smash!) is saved until the main set’s penultimate track. In between, the audience, here in strong numbers on a dull March Tuesday night, are treated to a career-spanning set, those Huffy songs like ‘I Cut My Own Hair’ already sounding like old classics just a year or so on and are warmly received indeed.

We Are Scientists

‘Nice Guys’ from 2010’s Barbara is tremendously euphoric, it’s video at the time subtitled with deliberately mis-quoted lyrics and reprised on the merch stand tonight with hand-written, deliberately incorrect lyrics (with doodles!) of your favourite WAS songs from Murray available at £10 a pop.

A long intro announces the main set’s last song, the group’s biggest hit ‘After Hours’, (quite a subtle song to have that honour), “This door is always open”, sings Murray correctly, despite writing “This store is always open” on those aforementioned lyric sheets! It’s a song that builds and builds and is a good example of what a wonderful album Brain Thrust Mastery really was. There is a four song encore thrown in, including the crowd-pleaser ‘Dumb Luck’ and bringing Birmingham back to the present for the closer, ‘Less From You’ from Lobes.

We Are Scientists have been on top of their game once more – another swift return to Birmingham would be most welcome!

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