The War on Drugs close Bristol Sounds 2022 with a gig to remember - review

‘This had me reminiscing about the time I saw the great Neil Young live’

Another superb sunny scene at Bristol Sounds in the Harbourside evening (Monday, June 27).

The support came tonight from Soccer Mommy (Sophie Allison). Don’t call her Soccer, it isn't her name!

She played a stripped-back set with just her subtle-sultry-soft vocals and an electric guitar accompanying.

Soccer Mommy plays a stripped-back set. Pic: Jess Siggers

Opening with ‘With U’ from her new album ‘Sometimes, Forever’ she captivated the fans that had made it in early.

I couldn't help hearing comparisons with Phoebe Bridgers, vocally which is perfect for me as I'm a huge fan.

The songs took on a vulnerability being so stripped back, with the vocals and ‘heart on sleeve’ lyrics taking centre stage.

‘Shotgun’ was the song I came to see and Sophie gave a great performance, clearly very happy to be supporting War On Drugs.

The short set closed with (her words not mine) “newdemo”, leaving fans new and old happy.

With the crowd now growing in size and in eager anticipation, it was time for War On Drugs.

Closing this year’s Bristol Sounds was Philadelphian rock band The War on Drugs. Credit: Ania Shrimpton

First playing at Bristol Thekla in 2008 to ‘three people including Big Jeff - and if Big Jeff is there then you’re clearly doing something right! Our love goes out to him’.

The seven piece indie-psychedelic-blues-rockers (to name just a few genres) from Philadelphia have steadily grown a fan base over the years and would clearly sink the aforementioned iconic Thekla boat if they tried to fit their fans in it now.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Adam Granduciel stands centre stage with long hair blowing in the breeze like every idea of a Guitar Hero I grew up with playing out in front of me.

The band released their fifth studio album ‘ I Don’t Live Here Anymore” in November 2021, and have become one of the biggest live US acts in the UK in recent years. Credit: Ania Shrimpton

This had me reminiscing about the time I saw the great Neil Young live.

For me it felt like they were easing into the evening by opening with ‘Old Skin’, ‘Pain’ and ‘Ocean between the Waves’ all filling the evening with hope and epic guitar riffs.

Dusting off old songs and polishing new ones, the crowd were clearly hooked and in the mood for more and more.

The gig came to life when the sun went down, with the Harbourside looking even more resplendent and glorious as they launched into “Under the Pressure” with upbeat piano riffs then becoming the theme throughout the rest of the set.

The crowd were in ‘their element’ throughout the set. Credit: Ania Shrimpton

I moved further back to take it all in and saw a sea of people dancing with lots of people on shoulders in their element.

They even squeezed a Bob Dylan cover in, ‘Born in Time’, which I will now revisit myself.

“You look beautiful!” Granduciel exclaimed.

That’s a wrap! Credit: Ania Shrimpton

At this point the lighting show lit up to become a phenomenal graduated neon blend of pinks/oranges and every bright colour you could imagine, set to the soundtrack of an encore that popped up like a game of peeka boo (you knew they were going to reappear). The set closed with “Thinking of a Place’ and Occasional Rain”.

The amphitheatre exploded onto people dancing and smiling from front to back, enjoying what was a gig to remember.