“IT’S A BIBLICAL SCENE!!!”, screamed one. Biblical? It was a cry that certainly seemed to throw Hope Of The States frontman Sam Herhily. But you know what, random disembodied voice from amongst the throng near the front of the stage, you may have a point. After all, the path of the righteous band is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil (A&R) men.
Tonight, there were none more righteous than Chichester’s finest. This was the final date of their low-key warm up tour, and therefore the last date of the two pronged live pincer movement that will pave the way for the release of the new album (Left, due June 19th). After a relatively tense and tetchy start, possibly the most important band in Britain, absolutely the most under appreciated band in Britain, seemed to be among the most relaxed bands in Britain.
And clutching new songs like these you can understand why: Industry rages with the fire of a thousand failed dreams burning up on a picket line, The Good Fight salutes, puffs out its lungs and demands that we link hands and take to the battle (with unseasoned weapons if needs be) while Thee Church Choir has grown from an original acoustic manifestation of skeletal beauty, to a remarkable blend of string led, deathly-sad lament and boundary shattering, building crushing, instrument shredding might.
Paving a way then, but paving it with napalm; this was nothing less than a laser-guided carpet bombing of a performance, tracks scorching the earth with a new found sense of urgency and a tightening of scope. Because above everything else that HOTS have managed to achieve with the new songs, most impressive is the manner in which they have managed to squash everything which makes them so good (epic, widescreen instrumentation; intellectual disgust; grandiose orchestrated sweeps) into songs which march to the beat of approachability. Hell, you could even dance to the Bloc Party-under-siege motions of Blood Meridian, should you feel so inclined, and while This Is A Question rings with predictable intent, they’ve shoehorned those protestations into a spangly pair of pop trousers and a glitteringly catchy chorus.
While the new material sparkled, the old songs hardly damp-squibbed. Indeed, when the glorious orchestral climax of Black Dollar Bills trampled euphorically over the hill of densely battling guitars and violin solos, it was moment of utter, blinding, inspiration and a timely reminder that this is hardly a new phenomena: HOTS have been razing venues like this since way beyond the days of yore.
The weight of expectation seems lifted from their shoulders – and in the best way possible, through an absolute unshaking belief in what they are doing. Hope Of The States? Biblical? Amen to that brother, amen to that…