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LIVE: Sea Fever – St Mary’s, Stockport, 26/01/2024

Led by Iwan Gronow from Haven and Johnny Marr’s band, alongside Beth Cassidy from Section 25, Sea Fever comprises five skilled musicians drawn from esteemed bands. With drummer Elliot Barlow and members of New Order, Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham, in their lineup, the band faced high expectations upon their formation and effortlessly established their own distinct sound and direction on their debut album, Folding Lines.

Since the release of the album in 2021, the band have performed a plethora of successful shows, with their latest being their most impressive yet. Taking place at St Mary’s Church in Stockport, the show was the first in a new initiative called Live at St Mary’s. Part of Stockport’s tenure as Greater Manchester Town of Culture, Live at St Mary’s sees the historic Market Place church transformed into an atmospheric and unique live music venue.

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The five piece came onstage to new track ‘Shouldn’t Have Been This Way’. Boasting an irresistible bassline from Tom and captivating guitar work from Iwan and Phil, fans were familiar with the funky track as it received its live debut at the bands SOUP show last April. ‘Dilemma’ followed, showcasing the duality that having both a male and female vocalist offers – something that was particularly prevalent in the next track, ‘Under Duress’. Crafted around the theme of unrequited love, the multi-layered sonic earworm is enhanced by the smooth vocals of both Iwan and Beth.

‘Crossed Wires’, the catchy opening track from Folding Lines came next, before ‘Afterthought’ – an intense yet captivating track that presents a question-and-answer dynamic between Iwan and Beth during the verses, culminating in their unified delivery on the explosive chorus. The ominous melody and dark harmonies of the albums title track ensued, serving as a reminder of not only the eclectic range of sounds that Sea Fever incorporate into their music, but also the sheer talent emanating from each member of the band.

The band’s set maintains a constant pace without any slowdowns and halfway through they burst into the energising electronic track ‘Le Coup’. Renowned for consistently eliciting a lively response, it had people dancing from the front to the back. From just that song alone, it was more than evident that the band have established a strong fanbase and secured their position within the scene – distinguishing themselves from their other musical endeavors.

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With the triumph of their debut album anticipation for what’s to come is high, which made it thrilling to hear the fresh tracks that came next and the melodic ‘Breaking Out’ in particular soared. When ‘Trigger Us’ made its live debut last year, it carried a sense of familiarity – not because it mirrored another band, but because it embodied the distinctive sound of Sea Fever, and this was even more evident at St. Mary’s. With its irresistibly catchy chorus, it’s undeniably worthy of being a future single.

If you’ve read just one of the band’s promotional interviews, you’ll know that each and every member had nurtured a desire to collaborate with the rest for quite some time – and this is something that’s always evident onstage, both between tracks and during. The energy and pure joy onstage during ‘De Facto’ in particular perfectly epitomises the fulfilment of that desire and as he traded his guitar for a tambourine, you couldn’t help but notice how comfortable Iwan is in his role as frontman. Highlighting Tom’s talents as he handles synths and programming alongside his bass duties, the driving electro piece is always a highlight of the band’s live sets.

The set concluded triumphantly with ‘Built to Last,’ characterised by its jaunty nature and driving beat – courtesy of Elliot – the anthemic track ensured that the band concluded what was unquestionably a remarkable show on the most exhilarating note imaginable.

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Sea Fever are playing Bask in Stockport on 21st March 2024. Tickets are available here.

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.