After a series of shows on their Back to Oblivion Tour, and several performances as part of Slam Dunk and Camden Rocks, Finch once more parked the tour bus in London for a night at KOKO. In fact as the evening’s first support band Only Rivals took to the stage, the sparse crowd seemed to suggest that the UK might even be Finched out. The hushed murmur between those assembled didn’t seem to unsettle the Irish newcomers however, as they powered through their Fighting With Wire/Twin Atlantic style tracks with pace. It’s a shame frontman and guitarist Stephen Arkins is stuck behind the mic, as despite quickly winning the crowd over, the band seemed a little static. Only Rivals clearly have some great songs in the bag though, especially their finale Borders. By the end of their set the band had done their job, and a now slightly larger crowd’s concerns had been quashed.
Next to take centre stage were Fort Hope, a band consisting of 4/5’s of now disbanded electronic rockers My Passion. Now I’m not going to lie, having already heard a couple of tracks in passing on the radio, I can’t say I had high hopes for their blend of alt rock and post-hardcore. But within ten minutes I was starting to rethink my early conclusion. With energy by the shed load and soaring vocals that would turn the head of Jonny Craig, it’s clear the band’s recordings don’t do them justice. A bounding Simon Rowlands on bass was clearly loving every minute in the limelight, while vocalist Jon Gaskin hit some truly eye watering notes. New Life in particular went down with the now sizable crowd, as the front rows started for the first time to sing. If this band can capture their passion of their stage performance on their next record, they’ll be set for big things. Watch them closely.
As the headliners Finch took to the stage the cheering reached new levels. It was clear it was going to be an evening to remember. Opening track New Beginnings seemed to inspire memories old, as no warm up was needed before lyrics were screamed back with vigour by the crowd. Constantly moving around the stage, vocalist Nate Barcalow only stopped to crane his neck back for some of the track’s harsher vocals. Grey Matter then quickly followed, before Insomniatic Meat was given a raucous outing.
The first new material of the night Anywhere But Here saw a change to a slower pace. Released nearly a decade after the previous trio, the fresh material offered a much more mature and considered offering. While some in the crowd obviously lacked the same attachment to it, others clearly had embraced the new album with the same love as the rest of the band’s discography. And in fairness, while not quite classic Finch, it still held its own.
Post Script saw the band in their prime, as Without You Here continued a set list heavy in classics taken from the post-hardcore essential What It Is To Burn. With little chat between tracks, A Man Alone and another new number Further From The Few continued the evening’s proceedings. During Stay With Me guitarist Randy Strohmeyer started to really let lose, spinning the crowd, and occasionally himself, in circles.
Play Dead offered some respite for those bouncing and moshing with its slow intro, before the band built the tempo slowly back up in time for fan favorite Letters To You. And boy it’s amazing to hear that song live again!
Us and Them, Ink and Ender closed the set for the first time in style as the band left the stage. It was clear there was always going to be more though. Untilted and Two Guns To The Temple got the crowd baying one more, but there could only be one song to bring the night to a close. As the opening riff for What It Is To Burn rang out and Barcalow’s scream kicked in, the audience turned the noise up to 11. There are some song’ that drag you right back to an era in your life, a memory, and it was clear that for many in the crowd this was one of them. It’s still one hell of a tune, a piece of faultless post-hardcore in an evening filled with classics. Finch are back, and god it feels good.