Stood waiting for The Pearl Harts to play their support set it was striking to notice the gender diversity of Counterfeit‘s crowd.
A band that has traditionally attracted a female-heavy audience, there were unmistakably more men in the room than usual, and not just the boyfriends that had been dragged along, or the dads hanging around the bar. These guys looked keen. They were nodding their heads to the Linkin park playlist and wearing Counterfeit merch, although not the hot pink offerings that were on sale at the merch desk.
The Pearl Harts kicked off the night with ‘Suck It Up’, giving off a definite Joan Jett vibe. The girl power is strong in this duo, with just a drum kit, a guitar; two girls who apparently wanted to kick the shit out of you. The set rose and dipped but ended on what is a definite banger. Call and response, loop pedals and wild thrashing around whipped the crowd into a frenzy as they complimented the female element of the audience for their enthusiasm and support. Girl groups can be cliché but The Pearl Harts somehow managed to divert the attention away from their gender and towards having a damn good time.
As ‘The Kids Are Alright’ of Robbie Williams & Kylie fame blasted out over the speakers, Counterfeit wandered out on stage. Jamie Campbell-Bower, the usually black leather-clad, rock star type, ambled out wearing every colour other than black. Loose fitting yellow trousers, a blue t-shirt, and cream baseball cap, he wouldn’t have looked out of place in a ’90s high school movie as part of the stoner crowd. “We’ve been away from a year writing a new record, if it’s okay we’d like to play it for you?” he asked, and then they did. They ripped through ‘Getting Over It’ and ‘Paralysed’ which have a much more upbeat vibe than their previous offerings before Bower stopped to acknowledge their debut record that brought them so much recognition.
“Four years ago we released Together we are Stronger, but now we’ve grown as people, we’ve changed as people. Our goal is to celebrate the beauty of life.” Bower declared.
‘Lack of Oxygen’ then bathed the crowd in red light before Bower asked if we were feeling it. The question wasn’t rhetorical and the frontman breathed a sigh of relief at the crowd’s deafening roar. He spoke a few more words about letting go of hatred before planting himself alone in the middle of the stage declaring that this year he has found love and dedicated an acoustic number called ‘Pictures of You’ to his girlfriend Ruby Quilter, who was in the crowd.
The rest of the band piled back on stage and launched into ‘Alive’ which sounds like ‘Backroads’ by Lonely The Brave with a melody reminiscent of ‘Many of Horror’ by Biffy Clyro. ‘Get Out’, an upbeat song apparently written about the frontman’s massive ego showed just how much fun Bower was having on the stage as he turned around and shook his behind at the audience. A song with possibly the strangest backstory ever followed as Bower explained it is about dying in a car cash on Sunset Boulevard to piss of the Kardashians…? Cool. This song did bring with it the signature jump into the crowd that Counterfeit fans have come to expect from these shows and a sort of moshpit erupted in due course.
Just before the night ended, which would’ve left the heavier music fans disappointed, Bower exclaimed, “did you really think we would leave you dissatisfied?” and an immediate and intense moshpit appears as the band launched into ‘Enough’, their only song of the evening from their first album.
Here’s the thing; no one leaving The Garage seemed disappointed. The general vibe post-show was as energetic at the pre-show anticipation, but a band changing its whole ethos and attitude as drastically as Counterfeit have just done will encounter the “I liked their first album best” crowd. This is understandable as Counterfeit’s signature sound until now has been pissed off, troubled punk rock. This new material brings with it many influences, not least Bower’s own personal contentment with life, love and sobriety.