It’s safe to say this band has been through hell and back as singer Austin’s health fluctuates up and down but nothing seems to stop them, their determination is admirable. There’s a overwhelming sense of love in the room as many parents accompany their children to show despite musical differences, and despite the clash with Twin Atlantic on the other side of the building the show is fairly well packed.
We quickly catch Hands Like Houses who look like they’ve stumbled off a coach from Glastonbury and straight into the uni. As for setting the mood tonight they’re quite calm and easy going, and do I dare say it, radio friendly rock. They bounce around the stage eloquently and round up a few new fans. It’s a welcoming start to the show.
Next sees Crown The Empire come on to a rather pleasing crowd. A lot seem to be here tonight only for them as they get the pits and sing alongs going. In a heartfelt moment singer Andrew proclaims “These 30 minutes are the only reason I exist” and it genuinely feels it. They’re enjoyable on stage and with a decent distinction in their music it easily separates them on the tour as favourites. Andrew definitely has the charm as he creates an atmospheric sing along for the old fans and at one point during the set manages to grab a shot off a crowd surfer. Despite the slight computer malfunction they play the set like pros and generate some fun memories for the young ones.
As Of Mice & Men take to the stage they must admire their own singers courage to get back up there despite past health issues to which we later find out in the set their show prior to Cardiff was cut short. From the start you could see Austin is holding back. It takes a lot of commitment to play to fans than cancelling due to serious ill health as Austin mentions he’s taking it easy tonight and didn’t want to let the fans down. A few pauses see him take moments off stage and it’s at those moments you can’t help but feel for this band right now and lucky for them their fans are as respectable as they are affectionate. Guitarist Phil takes the leads tonight in what feels like a short set, but for good reason. If anything the only let down of the night was the sound mixing as drums overpower the entire band.
We wish Austin all the best with his recovery.
Crown The Empire + Hands Like HousesCardiff Great Hall - 9th October 2016.
Photographer: Nadine Ballantyne - www.nadineballantyne.com