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19 April 2005: The House of Love - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham, England, UK
As The House of Love took to the stage the entire audience stared at the stage in absolute silence in anticipation of something very special.
It’s very rare that you get complete crowd silence at a gig and I have only ever experienced it a couple of times (the Sundays very first live dates being the prime example) and the only reason for it is anticipation. You could feel it in the venue.
After fifteen years, longer if you count the absence of guitarist Terry Bickers, The House of Love is back and it’s shining.
Having not yet had a chance to buy the new album (a fact I seemed to share with what seemed to be a large proportion of the audience) the end of the first songs were greeted with appreciative, but not over-enthusiastic, applause. I had actually listened to the new album once via the House of Love Website and was very impressed and had some idea of the quality of the new stuff. But it was evident that much of the audience was there to see the legend, and hear the legendary older tracks.
The first couple of numbers were hampered by Guy Chadwick’s vocals not being loud enough, but once the sound engineer had sorted that out we were off on a perfect high.
Between songs Guy (who didn’t look a day older than the last time I’d seen him) chatted to the audience. At one time he declared that he used to live in Nottingham. In Chilwell. Not many people knew that.
Guy’s vocals were a revelation. I imagined that they would have changed over the years, but to my ears they sounded as perfect as the first time I heard them.
They kicked into some of the classics. We got "Christine", which shone like the beacon that it was on its release and "Beatles and the Stones".
We got "Safe", which I did not expect at all, but which made the night even better for me as it’s probably my favourite House of Love track (with "Loneliness is a Gun").
We also got "Love" (one of them), "Never", which rocked like a good one and loads more, including "Gotta be that way" off the new album, "Days run away". This new song in particular seemed to belong with the older stuff. Somewhere in the middle, I'm sure they played "Hope".
Then came the second period of absolute crowd silence. "Love In A Car" was massive tonight. It shone with the brilliance of a thousand suns. The crowd leaning into the stage to catch every perfect note picked out by the perfectly played guitars. Awesome. It could have moved you to tears.
And then they were gone.
And all of a sudden the crowd roared its approval. People screamed, people cheered, people stamped and people clapped, but most importantly people made it patently clear that they wanted more of The House of Love and they wanted it now.
They didn’t have long to wait. It all became a bit too much for me at this point but I think that the band came back and treated us to "Destroy the Heart", with the guitars forming a wall of shimmering sound that I defy anyone to dislike, with Bickers flying round the stage, and then something else and then they once again left the stage.
And then the Lady on the merchandise stall sat down, which is a sure sign that the show was over.
It wasn’t. They came back for more. People streamed back in through the exits and crowded to the front. "Salome" (I think) was gorgeous and was followed by "Shine On" which seemed like meeting an old friend again that you never knew had left town (amazingly, I didn’t hear one shout for "Shine On" all night).
They then played something that I didn’t recognise, but which was introduced by Guy as a "Country and Western song" and then left the stage once again to more cheering.
And the crowd stayed and called for more. But we weren’t getting it and slowly as the lights came up we made our way outside.
Talking to the Lady on the merchandise stall, they’d never done a second encore before. I asked her whether she thought that it had been a good gig and she replied that it was the best of the tour so far. Nottingham loves The House of Love – it’s official!
Tonight was a very special night.
It was the night that proved that good music always stands the test of time and it was the night that many people never thought they would see.
The House of Love are back, with shimmering, shining guitars the like of which I thought I would never hear live again.
It doesn’t get more special than this!
The views expressed in these reviews do not necessarily reflect those of the livemusicreview.co.uk team.
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