If most upcoming bands are the new kids on the block, Morning Runner go round the block, through the park, past the town hall and along the river. The Reading indie five-piece, newly signed to Parlophone, also stop off at a few big bands’ digs along the way – Coldplay and Athlete to name a few. The former taking the band on their tour in June, the latter having already done so.
And so, as they’re jogging up the popularity stakes, they attract a sizeable crowd at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, London. The Race, another Reading band, are on first, delivering a vibrant and distinctive Brit-indie set full of pummelling keyboards and razorsharp guitars. They are set to go far, having already made history as the first ever unsigned band to play a live set on BBC 6 Music. The Jackson Analogue from the Isle Of Wight, (fittingly signed to Island), then present the audience with a scruffy retro rock sound, with Hammond organ-sounding keyboards and a set that could be an amalgam of Gomez and Kings Of Leon. Not bad but not brilliant either.
Morning Runner then take to the stage in typical solemn fashion and kick off with the jaunty Gone Up In Flames. Matt Greener’s vocals always sound alarmist, like a shy recluse singing his heart out in his own room. But it’s part of what makes Morning Runner have that extra special touch. People liken them to Coldplay but this band are much more sombre and have more grit.
Playing third song It’s Not Like Everyone’s My Friend, off their new EP Drawing Shapes, out on Monday 23 May, Morning Runner show their metallic echoey edge, while the laid back Great Escape trots along with soft punctuating beats, and the balmy piano intro of Burning Benches again illuminates them as a band with many textures and moods.
As a whole though they come across as wintery, with a sound that smacks of melancholy despite swinging by big life-affirming chords. They can also be explosive however, blasting out the dancy number Can’t Get Right complete with lightning-fast strumming. With Be All You Want Me To Be they seem to have come up with a new kind of white sound, one that is tainted with melancholy and one that is well and truly harnessed.
Ending with Work, the first song off their upcoming EP, they save the best til last. It’s exemplary of their intelligent punchy music that lifts you up with its fluid melodies and meaningful lyrics. “What’s a movement if you don’t move”. Quite.
Morning Runner don’t plug into rock ‘n’ roll but they plug into something with an understated power that grasps hold of passion and a sense of a quiet riot. Sounding as good live as they do on their EP, catch them while they’re still touring the small stages.