Live Music + Gig Reviews

Thirteen Senses @ Trent University, Nottingham

7 December 2004

With an excellent debut album boasting three fantastic singles, you’d expect that Thirteen Senses would be household names by now.

However, they still remain relatively unknown, possibly due to the Keane/Snow Patrol occupation of the musical middle ground in the last 12 months.

However, things are looking up for the four lads from Cornwall – they’ve received endorsement from Radio 1, recently headlined MTV2’s Gonzo Tour and have landed a number of high profile support slots – they’re set to open for The Charlatans and Starsailor later this month. All this bodes well for a successful 2005, and on tonight’s evidence, if they’re not playing to substantially larger audiences this time next year, people really need to reassess their musical taste.

With bittersweet vocals and melancholic piano, razor sharp guitar and choruses that Thom Yorke or Bono would be proud of, Thirteen Senses are the best band of their somewhat overfilled genre to come out this year. Maybe it’s just the stark contrast between them and the mediocre support tonight, but it sounds like they’ve been playing these songs for years, such is the incredibly concise nature of their musical arrangements.

Do No Wrong, their second single, is an early highlight. In essence this is your perfect pop song – a brooding piano introduction that builds up into an epic, swirling chorus. It takes you to a different place for its five-minute duration, a sure sign of a band on the top of their game. Coldplay did it with Clocks, Elbow did it with Newborn and Doves captured our imagination with Caught By The River – Thirteen Senses have seemingly joined the elite club that is the soft rock aristocracy.

Gone and History are simply beautiful pieces of music that see lead singer Will South command the attention of the entire venue with little more than his piano and incredibly heartfelt vocals, and Into The Fire sounds even more majestic that it does on record – introduced as one of the band’s two top forty hits, it sees everyone in the venue grin with approval. We’re then served up with breakthrough soon to be re-released single Thru The Glass, in what turns out to be a double bill of hits. This smacks of a signature tune, with a pounding introduction similar to Coldplay’s Politik, and a chorus so infectious it sticks in your head long after you’ve heard it.

It’s this sort of showmanship that will separate Thirteen Senses from their peers – South is a remarkably talented performer who often engages with the crowd, even offering to introduce a song into a fan’s video camera, whilst lead guitarist Tom Welham is a figure of resolve throughout; his nifty fingers add an extra edge to many of the songs.

It’s a fantastic performance given the band’s relative inexperience. Not everything was up to the standard of their finest moments, but it’s unrealistic to expect perfection from a group with only one album and a handful of gigs to their name. One thing that is clear is that Thirteen Senses are not pretenders to anybody’s throne; they are a great band in their own right. A future of attempting to crack America and Hollywood romance beckons.

buy Thirteen Senses MP3s or CDs
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More on Thirteen Senses
Thirteen Senses – Contact
Thirteen Senses: “We’re not trying to be a flash in the pan” – Interview
Thirteen Senses @ Trent University, Nottingham