Amber Run Headline Kink Nights

by Tom Elliott

As an Exeter student with a musical obsession, I’ve often heard the rumours of great bands playing at the Cavern to a few lucky punters just months before hitting the stratosphere of festival headline slots and platinum selling albums. Just take a glance at the Cavern’s website and you’ll see Coldplay, BIffy Clyro and Muse listed in the ‘History’ section. If Wednesday’s gig is anything to go by, expect Amber Run to be added to that list soon.

On a cold December evening, Exeter’s hot new indie night Kink came up big by bringing one of music’s best kept secrets to Exeter. Whispers had been heard by the few who had listened to the viral hit track Noah on YouTube and Soundcloud - “they could be pretty big” was the general theme of the week. After a delightful half hour of surfy folk from former Exeter student Nathan Ball, the atmosphere was set. A hundred or so students had chosen Cavern over Timepiece and were ready to have a good night.

Amber Run kicked things off with the explosive intro to their new single Heaven. Perfectly reverb-drenched guitars collided with drums, bass and piano to create a sense of excitement from the start. With a rockier live sound and a vaster sense of dynamics than what’s currently recorded, frontman Joe Keogh swung his body and shiny red guitar around the stage. Perhaps the defining theme of this gig was that Amber Run loved every minute of playing songs that they genuinely seemed to believe in. 45 minutes of unheard material followed, and the often tough Exeter crowd were won over just a couple of songs in. Packed with infectious melodies and perfect harmonies, the four piece showed why they’d just been signed to Sony and begun recording their debut album. Each song was as good as the next and performed with conviction.

Highlights included Little Ghost off the Noah EP and unheard last song Spark. The real turning point in the gig however, was when first single, Noah, was played. The Cavern crowd, half of whom had never heard of Amber Run, were singing the song back and pumping their fists in the air with more enthusiasm than is often seen on top floor of Timepiece. It wasn’t difficult to imagine this band taking these songs to the main stage of British festivals and receiving exactly the same response. Noah was played a second time in the encore after demands from the crowd.

As I walked home satisfied after a night of incredible live music, a few steps behind I heard the chorus of Noah being sung happily further down the street. It clearly wasn’t just me who thought that it was a brilliant gig. Perhaps the most shocking moment of the night was when Keogh seemed surprised at the crowd’s response, “This is the first encore we’ve ever had. This doesn’t usually happen.” It certainly was a gig to remember.

Only time will tell us whether Amber Run will reach their potential and join that list of Cavern history. They’ve got the songs, record deal and live conviction to give it a good shot. The crowd at the Cavern that night were treated to the best gig to happen in Exeter for a while. “Fuck Timepiece” was chanted halfway through the band’s set in response to Keogh’s previous comment that students usually head out clubbing on a Wednesday. Amber Run’s visit to Exeter wasn’t only a great night for the band; it was a great night for every person lucky enough to head down to the Cavern, and the whole of the city’s live music scene.