Monday, August 3, was, for me, the fourth time seeing this band. For some people, twice is enough seeing any band, but for the Augustines fan club, four is minimal. The live experience of this band is second to none in my experience, and I’ve never been happier to throw my money and time for a better bunch of guys.
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting these lads back in Hackney last year, when they were debuting their latest album Augustines to a lucky bunch of fans, around 15 people. I was already hooked on these guys before then (back when, due to copyright reasons, they were known as We Are Augustines) but this second album went that bit further to cement my love for their music and their stories.
Scala just by Kings Cross is one of the smaller venues I’ve seen this band in, but that didn’t stop fans piling in and come lights down, the place was packed to the rafters. Add to that, that this band has still not ‘blown up’ beyond not recognizing a couple of die-hard fans at the London gigs, and a drink and a catch up is always on the cards with these good people.
They often open with “Headlong Into The Abyss“, and this time was no different, a tune that frankly gears up the fans for what follows next. “Chapel Song” is by far one of the fan favourites and it only takes 2-3 hits on that iconic drumbeat to let the fans know what’s coming their way. A song which, with the band, has evolved from one of the songs that made Augustines, and now adds to a backlog of hits this band has in its arsenal.
One of the band’s oldest songs, yet only just released as a single, “Ballad Of A Patient Man“, came up next which in its studio version, has an eclectic mix of horns in it, sadly this wasn’t that rendition as horns didn’t feature on the night, but no matter as the three original members have more than enough moxy to get the crowd’s heart pumpin’ blood!
It was after this fantastic opening, that lead singer Billy McCarthy took sometime out to tell the crowd how its “good to be home” as well as going on to thank all the people behind the scenes including a new record label which has taken the band on for its next album.
Excited chants and woos rang out when Billy mentioned how he’s never written as much for this next album and how excited he is to get it off the ground. As if that wasn’t enough, the fans will soon have a movie about this band’s journey to feast up. Rise: The Story of Augustines gained a huge amount of support from the fans when they announced the Kickstarter project for the documentary, raising a stunning $68,002 which should help further the fans understanding of just what sort of journey this band has gone on and continues to.
After this break in the music, it took the start of “Walkabout” for the crowd to truly unite under the control of Mr. McCarthy (not forgetting the fantastic Eric Sanderson and Rob Allen). A song with strong slow lyrics before a stunning finish of drums and wailing from crowd and conductor alike.
The lyrics, which tell the story of Billy’s travels, which have seen him, take a motorbike from the bottom of Mexico to the tiptop of the Pacific Northwest, hence the lyrics: “Into the arms of the sea / where my tired head carried me / I walked out into the breeze / to be quiet with the storms inside“.
Despite having to reduce their set to a short 40 minutes, that doesn’t stop Billy, from pouring out his heart for every single second, even going as far as to encore twice, due to the fans non-stop chanting. Firstly coming back together to smash out another one of their hits from the first album “Book Of James“, a story of the trails and tribulations of Billy’s past brother who suffered from schizophrenia. One of the many emotional in this man’s belt, but don’t let that think that he’s hardened in anyway. The man is a gentle and talented musician.
And then “Cruel City“, a story about the brutality of both New York and London for those trying to start out in the business, or generally keep their heads about water – something this band has, at times struggled to do, with their original outfit, Pela, but now it seems without a doubt that Augustines are here to stay. The tours that tire these lads senseless have also, seemingly created a bond for these lads and their fans.
Finally after another short interlude covered by the fans trying to woo the band back on stage, did Billy appear solo with his steel string and seal the night’s performance with an almost gospel-esque version of “Weary Eyes” (fitting for this man who gives his heart and soul out on stage with him every night).
After the lights come back on, 45-50 minutes later, some of us lucky fans who didn’t have work in the morning, walked down to The Lexington where the band put on a DJ set. Another set of surreal moments talking to Rob about Arsenal in the upcoming season and thanking Billy and Eric for an insane night of great music. Cut to 5am, writing this on the night bus home and who am I listening to on my way home. You guessed it. Because if it’s one thing this band does do, it’s not stop giving. Thanks boys, till next year!