Holding Absence @ Rebellion, Manchester - 27.03.19 / Louder Live
After almost constant touring on only singles, a Holding Absence headline tour with a full-length album’s worth of new material has been a long time coming. The band have just released their self-titled debut album and every track has been well-received, each bringing unique elements to the record, so the tight-knit yet welcoming community of fans know that they’re in for a treat as they arrive at Manchester’s 600-capacity Rebellion Bar.
New to the scene, Newport band The Nightmares have few fans in Manchester except for those who have been following this tour. As the set goes on they surely gain some, their alternative/punk style suitable for this crowd. Although it is evident that they are fresh into the scene as a band, their stage presence is brilliant considering they had only played 3 shows before this tour, making this date their 9thever show. A clear favourite is their latest single ‘Dorothy’, which is played last in the set. Its theme is loss, so despite its specific personal narrative elements, it’s felt by everyone in the room.
Emotions run even higher as Luke Rainsford commands the stage with his band made up of other band members from the scene. Lyrics are explicitly emotional, there’s no subtlety at all in what Rainsford sings and gets sung right back to him by his established fan base. Just as he has poured his heart out into his lyrics, he gives his acoustic and vocal performance everything onstage. The crowd can see, hear and feel the anguish that went into these tracks and, after explaining that it was written at a very dark time in his life, he moves into the last song, ‘Frame’. The lyrics are so explicit and the performance so raw and passionate that much of the audience can’t do anything but cry, with the sorrow brought on by the music, or the relief of hearing something so relatable that many lyricists understandably neglect in their writing or are much more subtle about.
There’s a buzz as people take their positions for Holding Absence, ready to get up close with other fans at the front, or take it all in at the back. Starting with the first two tracks on the new record, ‘Perish’ and ‘Your Love (Has Ruined My Life)’, set the tone for the show, the music soothing but heavy, the experience intensely cathartic. A new favourite for the band, ‘Monochrome’ comes next and brings with it the perfect opportunity to hear vocalist Lucas Woodland’s impressive range, especially during the bridge when his high notes are possibly even more awe-inspiring than on record, followed by some calming lows and a chaotic return of guitars and drums alongside yet more huge highs. It also allows the fans of Manchester to showcase just how loud they can be. The words ‘in monochrome’ come after a short pause and are easy to sing for most people, a rare moment in the Holding Absence discography, so Woodland gives that part to us as a loud, clear call-back comes in return.
Moving back to their earliest releases, the Cardiff boys play a couple of all-time fan favourites, ‘Permanent’ and ‘Dream Of Me’. Despite these initial releases remarkably having only come about 2 years ago, everything flows perfectly, the band having toured with this material almost constantly since its release, and many fans having heard it live a few times already. An impassioned performance of the former gets emotions running high, the familiar lyrics introspective, centred around getting through one’s darkest moments. ‘Dream Of Me’ has angrier lyrics centred around a breakup and punchier guitar, embracing a slightly heavier side to Holding Absence, and this, too, goes down a treat.
Thematically similar, the final track from the album follows. 'Wilt' is a tear-jerker and deeply resonates with most of the fans, which shows as Manchester sings back through all 6 minutes. ‘Purge’ plays as an instrumental as the stage is prepared for lullaby-like ‘Marigold’, a poetic song with only Woodland on keyboard and vocals. Another prime time for crowd participation, this song is calm, less intense, and it invites phone lights and singing of the memorable chorus ‘Marigold, you’ll never know / Marigold, you’ll never know’.
If there’s one song guaranteed to get the energy back up when the band re-enter… it’s ‘Like A Shadow’. The first single from the album, and by far the most pop-leaning track in the discography, it’s a different type of break from the intensity that most of this band’s tracks bring. Less focused on lyrics (although they’re still on top form), the music shines through here and energises the crowd, its upbeat tone and pace inciting the most movement the show has seen so far.
Lastly, Holding Absence provides the last burst of intensity with old track, ‘Penance’. The energy on- and off-stage is incredible; the majority of the crowd know every word, and overzealous crowd surfers are falling down and getting right back up onstage again. It concludes an all-round fiery show, with a sense of community among the fans and bands. Some complain of the set being too short, but, at ten songs long and some almost 7 minutes in length, any more would have been far too difficult for the band, especially with the level of energy put into stage presence. Live shows are so important to solidify the sense of community Holding Absence brings, and with something for everyone tonight, it’s certainly even stronger than before.
Holding Absence's debut self titled LP is out now via Sharptone Records.
Check out the band's latest single, 'Monochrome', below:
The band are currently on tour across Europe with Being As An Ocean- dates can be found below: