R E V I E W
The Bats, with Ancient Tapes and The Scones
Friday 19 May 2017, Nivara Lounge
The Bats returned to Hamilton for the first time in many years on Friday night. Hamilton made their return worth it, providing the band with a highly enthusiastic sold-out Nivara Lounge crowd.
The Scones kicked off the night around 8pm, with over half of the final crowd already present. The band played a diverse array of well-crafted pop songs. For many in attendance, this was likely their first introduction to The Scones, but the audience were very appreciative of what they heard; the conclusion of every song was met with very generous applause. Front-person Julian White pushed their ‘The Scones’ emblazoned pens in one song break, and by the time the set was over the crowd was buzzing.
Ancient Tapes followed, with at least one member stating they were worried about how they might follow the quality of The Scones performance. They needn’t have worried. The Tapes set was stronger than ever, with the band playing a mix of their best from 2015’s Hummingbird EP and some excellent new songs. Guitarist Gareth was more energetic than I had ever seen him previously, and Sam’s vocals were excellent, while the flailing arms and legs of recent addition Cam on drums is giving the band a greater drive (and noise) than they had previously. Between songs bassist Rob was his typical self-deprecating self, and managed to push their new release on an old-school format without resorting to using the word ‘tape’. Another great set!
The Bats focussed primarily on their recent songs, with a good chunk of their new album ‘The Deep Set’ getting an airing. Within a few seconds of starting, the floor was packed with a now full-capacity crowd, and it didn’t appear to thin out at any stage. In an extended set, the band threw in a few oldies, including Smoking her Wings and North by North. Of the old songs, the absolute highlight for me though was Block of Wood, which has always sounded so much better live than recorded. But then, pretty much every song tonight was a highlight. And this really emphasised the value of the band not falling for the temptation of relying too heavily on their excellent back-catalogue; the recent songs really are high quality, and the crowd loved them all. The Bats’ live sound was brilliant, and the addition of a ‘skeleton string section’ greatly augmented this. Overall, the band really seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the crowd most certainly was. We can only hope we don’t need to wait quite so long until they visit us again. An excellent night from start to finish! - Ian Duggan