LIVE: We Are The Ocean @ Wedgewood Rooms Portsmouth 14/10/14 ★★★★☆

We-Are-The-Ocean

It’s been something of a quiet year for London rockers We Are The Ocean, as they’ve spent most of 2014 holed up in a studio somewhere recording the follow up to their critically acclaimed 2012 album ‘Maybe Today, Maybe Tomorrow’. This means that, while there have been odd live shows here and there, the band haven’t been on a headline tour in almost a year, and they’ll be taking to the stage tonight, in one of Portsmouth’s most unpleasant gig venues, with the weight of fan anticipation on their shoulders.

First up though are Newcastle lads ‘Boy Jumps Ship’ and they get the evening off to a reasonably good start with their solid, polished rock performance. They’re musically very good, unusually so for an opening band, as most openers tend more to the musically ramshackle side of things. However, that said, they just sound a bit too similar to the likes of Lower Than Atlantis and Twin Atlantic. Overall, Boy Jumps Ship make perfectly good anthemic rock, but they’re not terribly original or memorable, and in a genre as crowded as ‘melodic British rock’ those are two things you really need to be.

Next up are Decade, who have a lot more pop-punk influences in their rock sound, and they certainly inject a lot more liveliness into proceedings.  Their music sounds a bit like the early days of You Me At Six, before that band became certified arena fillers and creators of soaring rock anthems. Whether Decade will ever reach the same giddy heights is debatable, but watching them live it’s obvious they’ll give it a bloody good go. They bounce all over the stage like guitar-wielding puppies and shoot through a short but sweet set, which includes the title track from their album ‘Good Luck’ and crowd pleasing single ‘Callous’.

So, then, it’s now up to We Are The Ocean to come out and prove to their fans that they are a  band that’s worth waiting to see. As soon as the band take to the stage and launch into the first bars of their opening number, it clear that, while this might be the first show of the tour, there are no cobwebs that need blowing away here. WATO are a truly classy and accomplished melodic rock band, which is what makes it such a shame that their flawless performance falls on the ears of a somewhat passionless crowd in a venue that’s barely two thirds full. Singer Liam Cromby has a wonderful, gravelly vocal tone and it’s a joy to watch him bellow out old fan favourites like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Now and Then’ as well as newer tracks including the band’s newest single ‘Ark’ and a couple of tracks from the band’s as yet untitled upcoming album. They also play ‘Pass Me By’ proving that they can handle both the heavier and more melodic moments in their back catalogue with equal panache. So they’ve been away a while, but tonight We Are The Ocean conclusively proved that they’re still more than capable of putting on a brilliant show.