Having played 23 shows around Europe, the exhaustion has caught up with Shearwater tonight. Their eyes are sleepy and they are slow to pick up their instruments. Despite their obvious fatigue, they still manage to pile on the charm. “We really appreciate you coming here because we know how many awesome shows are on tonight” Jonathan Meiburg, the only original member woos.
The band concentrate on playing songs from their last two albums: 2010s ‘The Golden Archipelago’ and this year’s ‘Animal Joy’. They are dressed similarly with their dad jumpers and office hair, but they barely interact and seem almost afraid of each other. The songs emptily chug along.
Half way through the set, singer Jonathan Meiburg reveals that he’s battling the lurgy and is concerned about hitting the high notes. “If I fail, that’s why” he smiles apologetically. A less than happy audience member pipes up and shouts for his money back. This demand is silly, as Meiburg’s operatic vocals actually sound unaffected. Up until then, the sachets of Lemsip scattered around the stage area were the only giveaway.
The singer continues to nail each note, and he gathers many elated whoops during ‘You as You Were’ when he powerfully declares “I am leaving the life” over and over again. The small but loyal Brighton audience act as if they’ve waited a lifetime to hear these songs live. This is slightly perplexing because the songs are sadly dull and sound like something you’d find on Christian radio.
When Meiburg returns for the encore, there’s a unanimous request from the crowd for ‘The Snow Leopard’, and the band politely join him on stage to oblige. The song shows them at their best. They seem to invest in it all the emotion and raw energy that was missing from the previous songs. They continue the magic of the moment by easing into ‘Black Eyes’ but then spoil their recovery through playing two older, snore inducing songs, ‘Rooks’ and ‘Century Eyes’ before calling it a night.