LIVE: Swim Deep / Pale Blue Eyes / The Nu - Castle and Falcon, Birmingham, 22/11/2022 1

LIVE: Swim Deep / Pale Blue Eyes / The Nu – Castle and Falcon, Birmingham, 22/11/2022

It’s been ten years now since Swim Deep arrived on the wave (pun intended) of the ‘B-Town’ scene which brought with it a clutch of prized bands from in and around the Birmingham area, featuring also the likes of Peace, Superfood, and JAWS. So it’s quite fitting that Swim Deep have chosen Birmingham’s excellent Castle and Falcon venue to begin their latest tour, during which they will showcase new material and re-visit some old favourites ahead of putting together a fourth album, which will ultimately follow 2019’s Emerald Classics.

First up this evening, though, are fellow locals The Nu, who play a set of smart rock to an already decent crowd. They are well-drilled and upbeat and bring with them a sizeable following and clearly relish the opportunity to showcase their wares to a hometown audience.

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Pale Blue Eyes

Next up, all the way from Totnes, Devon, we have Pale Blue Eyes, fresh from releasing their debut album Souvenirs just a couple of months back. Kicking off with the record’s opening track ‘Globe’, they run through a highly impressive half-hour, Matthew Board’s shimmering guitar and vocals complemented perfectly by the propulsive rhythm section of Lucy Board (drums) and Aubrey Simpson (bass). The Swim Deep crowd immediately take to the band, whose set echoes the motorik feel of TOY and the luxurious textures of Lower Dens. They are surely bound for great things and will be back next year, headlining their own tour and probably with a good number of tonight’s audience returning to see them.

Swim Deep have what could be considered an open goal with the ‘home’ crowd nicely warmed up and access to a decade of well-loved material on which to draw, and they don’t miss the opportunity, the new songs fitting in nicely with the established ones. There are still working titles for the crop of new tunes, the opener titled simply ‘First Song’ on the set list with another actually announced on stage as ‘New Demo’ ! Swim Deep have always dealt in commercial indie pop, (as in they write songs with great hooks and choruses), and the new stuff is instantly appreciated by their audience, as the songs are so easy to love even on first listen.

Early single ‘Honey’ appears as early as the second track of the night and prompts the first mass singalong, surely putting the band at ease; they seem genuinely touched by the reaction to their return. ‘To My Brother’ from 2015’s Mothers continues the feel-good aspect with its easy Charlatans groove, giving energetic bassist Cavan McCarthy licence to roam the stage.

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Swim Deep

Frontman Austin Williams half-jokingly invites an audience member who is punctuating songs with high-pitched whistles onto the stage while the band dedicate ‘Happy As Larry’ to a friend who has become a new father.

Excellent 2013 single ‘The Sea’ begins quietly before bursting into life and recent single ‘Little Blue’ has a temporary instrument switch. ‘Good News’ is introduced with an appreciation of local lad Jude Bellingham’s goal for England the previous day, which is quickly extended to include Jack Grealish too: “Both good goals, but one better”, smiles Williams, possibly giving a clue to which of the City’s teams he favours!

There’s another new one, an uptempo number that even reminds of The Cure’s ‘Play For Today’, unlikely as that might sound, before the 8-minute closer, the propulsive ‘Fueiho Boogie’ closes the set to wild applause, which brings the band back for a three song encore, including the brilliant early single ‘She Changes The Weather’ . Their adored debut 45 and perhaps the signature song of the aforementioned B-Town scene, ‘King City’ is a fitting way to end the show, an audience member invited onto the stage to accompany the band on tambourine. Hopefully the band will be back on tour with a fourth album under their belts in the not-too-distant future.

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.