The London-formed foursome are no strangers when it comes to performing live – preparatory to their biggest headline show to date, ISLAND jumped back in the tour van, taking in shows across Europe and the UK. Fortunately for us, we were able to catch them in the intimate and atmospheric venue that is, Nottingham’s Bodega.
The night kicked off with support from the ever-so-sweet-sounding Club Kuru: with magically mellifluent keyboard synths and harmonic vocals seeming to be their effortless vibes, the mood of the room appeared to fill up with contentment. One of their most recognizable songs (and my personal favourite) “I’m Still A Man” was a part of their set list, which proved to be a big hit with the audience as everyone peacefully swayed along. The five piece band manage to let off an old school vibe whilst still retaining an ultra modern quality, and this appeared to be the perfect way to get the crowd geared up ready for ISLAND. In fact, they managed to get us in the mood so much that even ISLAND themselves couldn’t refuse the opportunity to be a part of the tranquility of the audience.
The moment everyone had being waiting for finally arrived, as the lights in the room went mysteriously dim, a teasing interlude began to play, raising the crowd’s excitement. After waiting for what felt a lot longer than the 60 seconds of reality, the charismatic group came on stage to an abundance of emphatic screams. Whilst waving to the audience, the boys took their places and during this time the room went quiet, as everyone around waited eagerly with enthusiasm. Then it began. The delightfully recognisable melody of “Ride” commenced and the jam-packed venue’s spirits became all the more vigorous and energetic as a vibrant glow of blue lights strobed around the room. The atmosphere of the crowd then settled slightly as the second song of the night – “Try” – introduces us to the softer side of the band, with relaxing melodic synths and the delicate yet husky vocals of lead singer, Rollo Doherty, the track exudes a feeling of serenity.
An array of some of their older songs were up next, including some of their most arguably recognisable tracks such as, “Dreaming Of”, “I’ve Been Searching” and “Come With Me.” It was during “Come With Me” Rollo took the moment to introduce lead guitarist, Jack Raeder and drummer, Toby Richards, at which time the audience went mad. Toby then played an upbeat, beguiling drum solo that smoothly flowed into the opening drum beats of “A Place You Like” – it certainly became visible that this was a fan favourite, as the crowd were on form when it came to singing and dancing along. Since this seemed to be the time of introductions of the band members, it was only right to give a shout out to bassist, James Wolfe, and once again the room filled with a roar of screams.
Next on the list of songs to be played was a surprise offering (as I know for a fact ISLAND don’t usually play this song live), however I think I speak for us all when I say that they most certainly should. “Girl” is quite easily one of my most loved songs by the band and judging from the passionate wooing from other listeners, I don’t think I’m alone. The atmosphere felt full of warmth and positivity as soothing yellow lights shone bright and everyone around joyously sang along, whilst rhythmically moving their bodies from side to side. This characteristic charm carried on for the next couple of songs.
It was then that the stunningly written track with the same name as the band’s debut album began to play. Yes, it was time for “Feels Like Air,” and as soon as Doherty’s enchantingly alluring voice spoke the words of “I want to touch your skin” in a tender and delicate manner, the entirety of the room was in a hypnotic trance and it didn’t stop there as next to be played was another one of the group’s appreciable classics. As the mesmeric rhythm of “Stargazer” went on, green lights illuminated the room and the spirits of those within.
The night was sadly drawing to an end, but thankfully for us it wasn’t over just yet. Three of the four members went off stage leaving Doherty on his own. It was then that we had the privilege of hearing the only acoustic track of the album. “Lilyflower” is an absolutely exquisite piece of music – and the seductive vocals of Doherty just makes the track all the more beautifully captivating. The members then re-joined Doherty on stage, but before commencing with the proceedings, James Wolfe took the opportunity to cheer on his band mate by emphatically asking the audience to raise their voices and hands in respect to his solo endeavor – and after that sublime performance, we all happily complied. Before the night came to a close, “Spotless Mind” was the final revelry we were met with, allowing the crowd one last singalong to tuneful chorus lyrics – and possibly the mightiest climax of them all: “What if I never asked you your name.” A perfect way to end an incredible evening.
ISLAND’s debut album ‘Feels Like Air’ is out now via Frenchkiss Records.