Ryan Fisher

Review: The War on Drugs @ Newcastle's O2 Academy

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page


For some bands, breaking into the music industry happens overnight, but for American indie-rock band The War on Drugs this journey spanned over a decade, wow it was worth the wait.

The six piece band, fronted by Adam Granduciel, rocked their way through a 90-minute set at Newcastle’s O2 Academy, just one week after performing at the same venue for BBC’S Radio 6 music festival.

The band opened with Under the Pressure, a single off their most recent critically acclaimed album Lost in the Dream, with the band silhouetted against white backlighting. It was also the perfect chance for Granduciel to show off his guitar playing ability, something he has been perfecting since a young age.

Granduciel had total control from start to finish. He controlled the audience, the mood and his band. His ability to change the tone of the night in just one song was something incredible to witness and his passion for music was something to be admired.

They lifted the audience during Red Eyes, one of their newest singles, then silenced them during Suffering as the audience were mesmerized and fixed onto the lead singer and his stunning guitar solos.

It was also nice to see Granduciel use a harmonica during the performance. For such an old-fashioned instrument it gave the music a new style and once again proved how passionate Granduciel is about music.

One of the most surprising thing about the gig was the wide range of ages in the audience. The mass appeal is probably down to the band reintroducing eighties rock music such as Simple Minds and Dire Straits to a younger audience – definitely something for all ages.

The stage design was basic, but the band doesn’t need anything over the top. For them it is about performing to the audience and shows that less is more.

During their time as a band, they have dealt with depression and have been through an extensive tour across the globe. They averaged a gig every two days in 2014 but despite this their performance on Friday was fresh – as if it was their first – and they looked like they could continue if it wasn’t for the 10pm curfew.

The band was supported by Amen Dunes but the unknown band from New York City failed to hype the crowd, which was only half full at the time.

So, if you enjoy listening to Lost in the Dream then watching The War on Drugs live is a certainty. The gig brought the album to life and was exceptional.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *