Home Gigs Gig Review : The War on Drugs – Telegraph Building, Belfast

Gig Review : The War on Drugs – Telegraph Building, Belfast

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Review & Photography by Paul Verner for MPM

In aftermath of UK political elections, The War On Drugs provided a welcome break from the usual political tomfoolery in Northern Ireland as they kicked off an eleven date UK and European tour in Belfast’s historical Telegraph Building.

With no supporting act, the band wasted no time went straight into ’Change’ from their critically acclaimed 2021 album I Don’t Live Here Anymore. By the time they got to ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ the sold out crowd had well and truly warmed up, and were beginning to sway along to the driving rhythms.

For a brief time the the set slowed down slightly with ‘Strangest Thing’ and throughout the evening there were plenty of improvised guitar solos, and multilayered keyboards which created plenty of atmosphere.

It is clear the music draws on a rich vein of rock influences, but pinning it down to just one genre is nigh on impossible. There are elements from Americana, classic rock and shoegaze all mixed up into a smorgasbord of songs that are extremely accessible and enjoyable to the ear.

Harmonia’s Dream’ kicked of with staccato keyboard improv intro and the rest of the band then seamlessly joined in as the song soared along until the crescendo closing lines “You’re on your own”. It was a joy to behold the improv and how the band followed singer and guitarist Adam Granduciel, at times just watching to see where he took a particular solo, and at other times enjoying how he finished out a song. Clearly these are people who enjoy making music together and have grown accustomed to each other’s musical mannerisms and quirks.

Perhaps one of the highlight songs of the night was ‘Red Eyes’ from their 2014 release Lost in the Dream. Any that weren’t already dancing, singing or just swaying along seemed to be doing so by the end of this song. Other highlights from the evening were ‘Come to the City,‘Under the Pressure’ and ‘I Don’t Live Here Anymore’.

The evening closed out with ‘Occasional Rain’ and to the disappointment for some members of the audience the band did not return to the stage for an encore.

From the opening note, to the closing solo, it was clear that many of the audience felt an emotional connection with The War On Drugs music.

It was easy to see why, their heartfelt lyrics were building up vivid cinematic pictures and they multilayered musicianship created luscious soundscapes which meant the audience could forget all that was going on around them, at least for a short time.

Their tour continues on 6th July at Dublin’s Marley Park with Kings of Leon, then on to Liverpool on the 8th & 9th of July, London on the 11th & 12th July and then over to Brugge on the 14th July. For further touring information please see their website.

Set List

  1. Change
  2. Pain
  3. An Ocean In Between The Waves
  4. I Don’t Wanna Wait
  5. Strangest Thing
  6. Harmonia’s Dream
  7. Red Eyes
  8. Old Skin
  9. Your Love Is Calling My Name
  10. Come To The City
  11. Living Proof
  12. Under The Pressure
  13. I Don’t Live Here Anymore
  14. Occasional Rain

Tickets to all upcoming shows here: https://thewarondrugs.net/tour

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