Review: Martha Stokes.
Saint Raymond kicked off his début tour last Sunday at the ABC2 O2 in Glasgow. The venue is lively but dark, reminiscent of its past days as a cinema. Despite the underground feel this creates, it is not claustrophobic. Neither is it spacious; “sold out” posters plaster the doors.
Saint Raymond’s singer/song-writer and frontman, Calum Burrows is the latest in a line of Nottingham-based artists to surface on the music scene. His upbeat, indie-pop style has earned him comparisons to Bastille and Vampire Weekend. Although only 19, he and his band members have already supported established musicians such as Gabrielle Aplin, Lewis Watson, Haim and, recently, Ed Sheeran. His début EP ‘Escapade’ rocketed into the top 30 on ITunes upon its release, and Young Blood reached number 3 in the charts.
The night started with a performance by Fickle Friends, a Brighton-based new-wave 80s pop group. Their bouncy, synth-sound and strong female vocalist produced a sound not unlike that of indie electro-pop group Mausi. Notable numbers such as ‘For You’ and ‘Swim’ hit the perfect mix of memorable melodies and quick beats. Overall, the band was a hit, though their marketing ploy of ‘tweet us for a free T-shirt’ hit a brick wall rather literally when crowd members realised they had no phone signal so far into the ABC building.
If the crowd were excited for Fickle Friends, they were ecstatic about Saint Raymond. Strobe lights lit the stage that had been dim a moment ago and a group of girls began to shriek. ‘He’s here!’ trilled one to my left above the rhythmic contribution of “Here we F***ing go” from the rest of the crowd.
Saint Raymond were met with excited cheers and applause. The set opened with “Fall at your feet”, which was fitting as Burrows was quite clearly everything the girl to my left wanted if her vivacious dancing was anything to go by. The crowd were immediately engaged. The catchy “woah oh oh’s” were chanted by the crowd with rehearsed enthusiasm. Saint Raymond then played a few older, well-known tracks such as “Thread”. “I want you” was particularly well received. Next, he moved to newer tracks from his début album “Great Escape” for which his tour is named, including new single “Come back to me” (out now). Finally, he treated the audience to a solo performance of a brand new song he had written the previous week before finishing on crowd favourites “Ghost” and “Young blood”.
The band played brilliantly throughout. Relentless smoke machines hid the drummer from view throughout the set, making the tight synchronisation of the bass and rhythm section even more impressive. They were an entertaining band to watch too. Saint Raymond’s nimble guitarist even leapt onto the speakers towards the end of the set which encouraged even more cheering.
As for Burrows himself, he exuded a consistent air of confidence and yet humility. He was clearly enthralled by the youthful rigour and fullness of the crowd. He managed to remain composed, however, even when he forgot the words (which he did – twice). It is this modest charm that gives me high hopes for Burrows. His music is delightfully catchy, if perhaps the chord progressions are repetitive, but it is his refreshing manner which makes him a pleasure to watch.
Overall the gig was lively, slick and fun. Their song structures aren’t breaking new musical ground (yet), but you can’t help but find Saint Raymond appealing. Burrows has, at least for now, found what works for him. The band are engaging and he is certainly talented – his hooks lodge themselves in your brain for days. This, combined with a strong, effortless voice and on-stage charisma, is a winning combination.
Saint Raymond’s debut Album ‘Great Escape’ is due for release in June 2015.
Fickle Friends SoundCloud: