By Natalie Greener – Images by Will Gorman
The hype and enjoyment around Virgin Money’s Unity Arena was one of the reasons I had to go back after Becky Hill. Arriving at seven, the team really looked after their press entries and made our work easy in the midst of a lot of rules in place because of COVID (understandably so). With our platform at the ready and some idea of what was to come, we could sick back at enjoy the night.
First up were the local lads, Bare Roots. Walking into the arena with these guys playing in the background really brought back the live music feel. My housemate turned to me and said “a bit Mac DeMaraco but I f*** with it” and I have to agree. Such an established and well known sound, Bare Roots certainly brought the indie rock medley to their set that ‘blue wave’ is renowned for – catchy anthems but with a Northern kick. My instant understanding of the set was that it was well put together and the boys were not perturbed by the large crowd and venue. Vibes were heavy and the feel good instrumentals had me hooked. Support slots are key in discovering new bands or giving them the exposure they deserve and, with Bare Roots, it could be seen that people were shazamming tracks as the set progressed. Myself included.
Next up were JAWS. Now I am more than aware of these lads from Birmingham who have been established in the alt scene since 2012. With my personal favourite track being ‘Work It Out’ (2014), I was pretty excited to see their set! This partnering with The Hunna felt somewhat nostalgic to my early gig days and it was really enjoyable to feel as though the world wasn’t going to shit – even if it was just for a few hours. JAWS being renowned for their presence in smaller venues, they did not disappoint and part of me felt as though they should’ve had a longer set. It was nice to see people having a good boogie, safely, in their private platforms. If this is the future of live music… I’m not totally mad at it.
Now, I’m going to confess that The Hunna are one of my guilty pleasures. The nostalgia that comes when you hear them – instantly I’m back at Rock City being 16 again, jumping up and down in a mosh pit. The boys take me back to a happy place where I don’t give a care in the world and I was excited to feel that live again. Unfortunately, the boys couldn’t fully grasp the audience in the same way they do in smaller venues. With the social distancing rules being followed at the arena, the lack of dancing and mosh pits evidently impacted the performance. It just wasn’t the same – which I did expect considering the venue’s restrictions. However, if you were armed with The Hunna knowledge, no pandemic could stop you jumping up and down with your household to ‘She’s Casual’ and ‘Bonfire’.
All in all, the gig was a good night out and did show us that the future of live music isn’t doomed. Unfortunately, the incoming second wave has dampened the dream of normality and the music industry is suffering more and more from strict rules in place to help prevent the spread of COVID. Projects like these really do ensure that there’s an industry to go back to.