Van Susans – Live @ The Borderline
aaamusic | On 04, Mar 2014
Thursday 27th February, London
Van Susans have been doing the rounds on the UK live circuit for the past four years, gaining a loyal and devoted fanbase around the capital and its provincial towns. Despite their intensive and gigging schedule they remain still just outside the realm of commercial success; 2012 debut album Paused in the Moment made some headway towards the Bromley based quintet breaching the charts however with no releases since, the band’s sound has developed with the collection of tracks on aforementioned record perhaps sounding slightly outdated in the current musical climate.
Van Susans produce their own brand of pop-rock with some folk roots deeply planted in their sound, owing to the addition of violinist Holly McLatchie and front-man Olly van Andrews’ earnest vocal delivery. We caught up with Van Susans at The Borderline with support from Carousel and SKIES.
Carousel consists of four young boys that make a man aged 24 contemplate where the years between 18 and present day have gone. Despite their age, the group play their way through a confident mix of original material and popular covers that retain the small but attentive crowd’s attention. SKIES present themselves as a highly competent unit on stage with their multifaceted line-up all performing well written tracks with the quality of seasoned pros.
Van Susans grace the stage amidst a rapidly filling venue with a crowd comprising of friends and family along with a group of loyal fans filling the front of stage precipice, kicking off with the highly competent trio of ‘Coming Home’, ‘Sophia’ and ‘Disappear’. The dynamic production of the band’s on stage sound is a welcome addition to proceedings with each element of instrumentation coming through including the subtle nuances of violin owing to the bands markedly original sound and moving them away from the pool of other pop-rock bands on the scene.
Despite the band’s obvious unity on stage there is a noticeable divide between the newer additions to the modified line-up seemingly isolated at times, in particular during the well-executed mid set drum solo. However, relaxing slowly into the performance, they come into their own.
The ensemble breaks up their strong set for a breach of the fourth wall with crowd pleaser ‘The Road’ performed unplugged and up close with a sprawl of smart phone screens capturing the moment, not only used as a tool to engage with the audience but also a sure-fire way to stick in the mind of any potentially converted fans. Van Susans return to the stage for flagship track ‘Cha Cha Bang’ performed with all the conviction and passion expected; polishing off proceedings with ‘Plans’ and ‘Glow’, the rapturous crowd are left baying for more, the sign a job well done.
Van Susans surprised with their live set, most notably due to the high quality of musicianship on display but also due to the contrast between the bands earlier material and the fresher, more dynamic offerings – exciting stuff for the future. An energetic and refreshing performance from a truly professional act; on the up and providing fans with a consummate live display.
Review: Andrew Major
Photos: Neil White, courtesy of Beatnik Geek Records