Exhilarating. That’s the word that gets bandied around most when music scribes attempt to communicate the Marsicans live experience. So tonight, HIDDEN HERD await the Northern indie-pop quartet’s headline set on the south coast with bated breath, ready to be blown away by a torrent of energy and giddy guitar pop anthems in the brooding surrounds of Bleach.
Before the four-piece flood the stage for their first bill-topping Brighton show, Portsmouth singer-songwriter Jerry Williams airs a spate of infectious indie pop tunes to win the hearts of those dotted across the dimly lit room. The 21-year-old’s support slot is one filled with catchy refrains, wide-eyed sincerity and magnetic stage presence, recalling a whole host of the artists who sprung to fame via MySpace circa 2006. Like the formative songs of Lily Allen, Kate Nash and Jack Peñate, ‘Mother’ bubbles with youthful exuberance thanks to its feel-good lick, fidgety rhythm and mockney inflections. That said, Williams is way more versatile than that tune suggests; a delicate cover of The Cure‘s ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ brings the room to pin-drop silence, before the Catatonia-ish ‘Film Noir’ puts the spotlight firmly on her honeyed voice, which is something that proves to be mesmerising.
It’s the perfect aperitif ahead of Leeds gang of four Marsicans, who pogo through a setlist of dizzying dirty pop ditties, each slightly more contagious than the last. Like London rock ‘n’ roll revivalists Hidden Charms, who HIDDEN HERD caught at The Hope & Ruin a few weeks back, their stint is one that’ll live long in the memory – an emphatic mix of hooky guitar lines, rousing group harmonies, smashing cymbals and relentless pizazz, which makes for an electrifying jaunt.
The upbeat indie thrill ride rarely dips below full pelt: new single ‘Friends’ unites the untamed youth in attendance with its glorious chorus that recalls Oxford quartet Dance à la Plage, ‘Swimming’ sounds like the credits roll of a classic coming-of-age flick with its euphoric rush of plinky piano and frenetic fretwork, and ‘Far Away – Saudade’ recalls Circa Waves with its six-string thrills and big earworm moments.
Each tune rouses, but there’s variation in the execution; ‘Arms of Another’ could be straight off The 1975‘s huge sophomore album ‘I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It’ such is its indie-pop prowess, building from Phoenix-ish origins to an epic wall-of-noise climax that Peace would be proud of. Even a cover of Britney Spears‘s Millennium smash ‘Oops!…I Did It Again’ doesn’t hinder their unstoppable trajectory – instead proving itself just as unabashed and miasmic as the rest of their arsenal. The whole thing is infinitely impressive; Marsicans, we salute you.