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The Coral/She Drew The Gun – Birmingham O2 Institute, 05/10/2018

Today is a very special day for She Drew The Gun. The Liverpool outfit, led by songwriter and guitarist/singer Louisa Roach, have this very day released their second album, Revolution Of Mind, on Skeleton Key Records, the label set up by James Skelly from tonight’s headliners The Coral. This sees the band put in a confident performance, featuring songs mainly from the new record, beginning with the powerful ‘Resister’ which is motored along by a mean bass and Roach’s vocals. The band’s new material is sounding very strong, more muscular than their 2016 debut Memories Of The Future, and the crowd here lap it up and will later form a disorderly queue to buy copies of the record in considerable numbers. It’s easy to imagine She Drew The Gun headlining venues like The Institute in the near future, with songs like ‘Between The Stars’ and ‘Arm Yourself’ already sounding like classics.

With the crowd nicely warmed up, The Coral have something of an open goal on this Friday night, and it’s a chance they don’t miss, taking the stage to the sounds of backwards guitars and powering straight into recent single ‘Sweet Release’, which is actually quite atypical of their new album Move Through The Dawn, a luscious ELODiscovery-era pop masterpiece which already sounds like a greatest hits album. A menacing ‘Chasing The Tail Of A Dream’ follows, one of the standout tracks from their previous album, 2016’s Distance Inbetween. It’s an ominous-sounding song with a killer hook.

There was a time when singles by The Coral flew into the Top 40, and it was considered something of a flop at the time when ‘Something Inside Of Me’ stalled outside of the 40, at number 42. Tonight though, it sounds like a number 1 single and the band continue to plough through a hit-laden set with the crowd singing back every word of ‘Pass It On’ and perhaps the most famous Coral song ‘In The Morning’ with its irresistible keyboard refrain.

The number onstage flits from six to seven and back, and new songs like the poptastic ‘Reaching Out For A Friend’ have them recreating the harmonies perfectly – never more so than on the band’s best song, (yes it is), 1,000 Years’, wisely chosen to represent their excellent 2010 album Butterfly House, and more honeyed vocals are contributed to their one cover version of the night, The Yardbirds’ ‘Heart Full Of Soul’. 

The Coral have perhaps become one of those bands who are taken somewhat for granted – if Move Through The Dawn had been a debut album by a new band, it would surely have had critics shouting from the rooftops, and the brilliant ‘Eyes Like Pearls’ illustrates this fact perfectly – taking the previously mentioned ELO pop period template and updating it for 2018 with a wonderfully warm feel.

‘Rebecca You’ from 2007’s Roots and Echoes is an unexpected set closer, until the band return to perform a two-song encore from their self-titled 2002 debut, the inimitable ‘Goodbye’ complete with its ‘Light My Fire’-style instrumental wig-out and a celebratory ‘Dreaming Of You’. 

The Coral have songs to spare – there’s no place for ‘Who’s Gonna Find Me’ or Top 10 hit ‘Don’t Think You’re The First’, but it’s testament to their back catalogue that they have so many crowd-pleasing offerings to select from and can still afford to leave a few out. It’s a Mersey paradise in Birmingham tonight.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.