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Palace Attract 'Shoals' Of Fans To O2 Academy Brixton

Photo by Maisie Allen

Blues-rock band Palace finally ticked their dream concert venue off their bucket list this year, with their UK tour, which celebrated the release of their third studio album Shoals, culminating in a headline slot at O2 Academy Brixton. Supported by the equally ethereal Chartreuse and Billie Marten, a dreamlike tone was set in the venue, with the crowd awestruck by the haunting vocals of frontman Leo Wyndham.

Opening with the song that gave their new album Shoals its name, Palace embraced the huge Brixton crowd with riffed-up acoustics in an attempt to ensure their presence filled the whole space. The typically-existential lyrics of their songs, which are often hidden behind soft melodies and vocals, brought the crowd that night into a trance; all eyes were transfixed on the stage and their billowing album backdrop. Like their previous two albums, So Long Forever and Life After, the tracks on Shoals give way to the same soothing harmonies.

After their slightly slower and soft opening, Palace upped the ante, increasing the volume and emotional intensity of their set during their 2nd track from Shoals, ‘Shame On You’. Wyndham and his band members seemed to bare everything on the stage, releasing all their vulnerabilities and giving away their emotions to the crowd, whilst simultaneously keeping their presence strong and unbreakable.

‘Lover (Don’t Let Me Down)’ was performed with a similar intensity, and by this point it seemed that their Shoals tracks were the priority for this performance, not any previous hits. In fact, it seemed Palace wanted to graduate into a league of rock bands that had performed at the Brixton venue previously, by changing the slower, more thoughtful songs that featured on their previous two albums into songs that seemed more upbeat and could encourage more crowd interaction; the lyrics were still thought-provoking but they seemed more keen on adapting their tunes to engage bodies instead of minds.

Throughout the set, especially when performing old hits, Wyndham seemed keen to keep reiterating how much performing at the O2 Academy Brixton meant to him and the rest of the band—it had been a goal for so long, and three albums later they had finally made it. Thus, their set was ablaze with a sense of giddiness that could only be described as when new bands get their first headline slot; their excitement from the stage was palpable and kept the crowd’s energies up.

Whilst the tracks from Shoals had been altered for a more rock’n’roll-esque atmosphere, their biggest hits from past years were kept the same, as a means of appeasing old and new audience members that had come into Palace’s fandom at different stages. When they performed ‘Holy Smoke’, the penultimate track from their debut album, the acoustics were kept as soft as they feature on the studio recording, and Wyndham seemed transported to a different dimension altogether—it was if he himself couldn’t believe that their debut album had finally made it onto the Brixton stage.

Within all of this, there did seem to be an atmosphere of tenderness from both the band and the audience, as if Palace’s songs were ones to be cared for and listened to with extreme care—the theme of loss that permeated the lyrics in their Shoals tracks was one which the audience seemed keenly aware of, and which left a bittersweet atmosphere in the crowd.

Prior to the encore, Palace chose another Shoals track, ‘Give Me The Rain’, as their closing track, one which allowed the crowd to nod along with the soft percussion and the heavy guitar that took over the sound system. The slightly more fast-paced chorus with the repetitive titular phrase meant the audience, even those who weren’t perhaps die-hard Palace fans, could all move as one as Wyndham’s high vocal range travelled through the crowd, his tone akin to awestruck euphoria.

It was a finale that seemed fitting, before a rapid encore began with the opening Shoals track ‘Never Said It Was Easy’, followed by one of their infamous tracks ‘Heaven Up There’. It seemed that the latter was what much of the crowd had been waiting for with bated breath, a track that had been craved so acutely that Wyndham and his bandmates gave everything they had to it, bringing the night to a close with an emotionally-charged performance that was just astounding.

To keep up with Palace, be sure to check out their website, Instagram, and Twitter.


Edited by Talia Andrea, Music Editor