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LIVE: Himalayas – The Louisiana, Bristol, 23/06/2024

“Seriously, what are THEY doing, playing HERE?!?”

The comment isn’t meant to be disparaging to Bristol’s blessed Louisiana – or I don’t think it is, anyway. Either way, though, it echoes what most of tonight’s audience is likely thinking.

In two days’ time, Himalayas will be playing at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium, supporting global rock behemoth, Foo Fighters. Yet, here we are, on a warm Sunday night, watching them in front of a transfixed sellout audience of just 140. It feels a little…..incongruous.

Really, though, this just reflects the journey of this band. As frontman Joe Williams notes, the last time the Cardiff four-piece played on this side of the Severn Bridge, only twenty people were there to witness it. Having experienced that, you can understand why they wouldn’t take a large fanbase for granted.

Now, though, they are an entirely different proposition. Having received critical acclaim for their debut album, From Hell To Here, which was released last year, they are now rapidly building a fanbase around the country, and rightly so. Bristol was the first show on the tour to sell out, and the buzz is palpable around the room.

What we get is a 75-minute set that showcases everything the band is now about, and boy, it is hugely impressive.

Mostly, you have to start with the songwriting. Songs like ‘From Hell To Here’ and ‘Out of the Dark and Into the Light’, and are supremely confident slices of indie rock, as good as anything released by anyone over the last few years.

Tonight’s set gives us most of the debut album, plus a good selection of the band’s older material too. Songs like ‘Ecstacy‘ and ‘Thank God I’m Not You’ are still fun to hear, but the progression from there to the album tracks are very clear indeed. Their recent post-album singles point, somewhat surprisingly, to a somewhat heavier sound, so it will be very interesting to see how that develops.

Live, there is such a swagger to what they do, and it feels like an experience that is designed for a much bigger room than this. The sound is absolutely spot-on perfect, capturing all the nuance and atmosphere of the album. Their fast songs rock really hard, more so than on the album, but the slower songs, like the sumptuous ‘The Mirror’, are effortlessly magnificent too.

Their interactions with the audience are very stadium-ready too, with simple banter and audience participation that keeps an engrossed crowd firmly engaged. There are also a number of nice added elements to the set too, such as the moment at the end when ‘From Hell To Here’ surprisingly opens out into a rendition of ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’. Definitely did not see that one coming.

While it is obviously far too early to talk about this band maybe headlining stadiums themselves one day, it’s telling that Himalayas are, at this point, far ahead of where, say, Stereophonics were at this point in their development. Either way, this is a band very much on the up, and the days of seeing them in 140-person rooms are likely numbered.

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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.