Gig Review: Breather and Familiar Spirit @ Old Blue Last

I’m not one for claiming ‘the UK’s next big rock band’ and all that jazz, but last night we saw Brighton trio Breather play their debut gig weeks after releasing their debut single – and boy were they impressive.

The trio of lead vocalist and guitarist Sam Irvine, guitarist Ryan Gilbanks and former Funeral For A Friend drummer Casey McHale were joined for their first gig by bassist and vocalist Paul, who’s also the lead singer of London rockers Nightlife, as they showcased their melodic rock sound for the first time.

The evening began in heavy fashion with the exciting London newcomers Familiar Spirit, who’d only previously released two tracks, opening up. The striking bleach blonde frontman Cameron Thomson was supported by the eight-string guitar of Jacob Grudge and five-string bass of Tayte Ross, along with the dominating drums of Gideon Waxman. And they were huge.

They opened up with their latest release, Stone Cold, which opens up with a driving riff and atmospheric synth sounds that continue under rapped vocals. Shouty vocals kicked in over big guitars and the atmospheric backing track with stabs of low-tuned guitars flowing into more melodic sections.

Next, Shangri-La opened up with big doomy cymbals and a cool riff over an atmospheric synth backing track. Cameron’s spoken vocals took over, gradually progressing into shouts then bigger rapped vocals and big screams over huge low-tuned guitar.

Next up a track that I think was called Tacky On, once Jacob had tacked his guitar back together, opened up with building atmospheric noise that gave way to a couple of really cool riffs that continued under rapped vocals. Another awesome darting riff kicked in before dropping into atmospheric looping guitars to close what sounds like a great track.

That was followed by a song I had heard, Reach. A big singalong chorus ended on a huge scream as the band successfully fused the atmospheric with seriously heavy sounds. Then Die Awake, which is apparently about “waking up and your body’s there but your mind quite isn’t.” A heavy start gave way to rapped vocals, then huge screams dropped into a massive breakdown as the song came to a heavy conclusion.

And they closed in equally heavy manner with the excellent A Rashing (I think), which opened with lively rapped vocals over light guitars. It ended with Cameron saying “We are Familiar Spirit, remember the name, I’ll leave you with a rashing” and light guitars, that led you to think they were done. Only for a disgustingly good burst of low-tuned guitar under huge drums and doomy cymbals and an avalanche of savage screamed vocals saw them end with a bang.

That was an impressive start to proceedings, but Breather – pardon the pun – simply took your breath away at times.

They opened up with their only released track to date, The Blue, which came out at the end of last month. Opening with light guitars under Sam’s vocals it gradually built into a series of huge singalong choruses. Check the track out for yourself in the video below:

That was followed up by Your Body Separates, in which Sam’s high-pitched vocals soared over big atmospheric guitars. A big cry of “Don’t you care, Don’t you care, Your body separates” dropped into a breakdown of huge rolling drums under repeats of “Your body separates,” bringing an awesome sounding song to a big ending.

The next track opened up with a repeating little guitar riff then driving drums intensified and drove into a superb singalong chorus with cool little high-pitched guitar licks over the top.

The next two songs saw them continue to impressive, with relentessly good singalong vocals dominating choruses, with occasional big doomy cymbals from the intensely hard-hitting Casey.

They closed with what I think was called Golden Song, which opened up with drums and a light riff then a darting riff and a cool high-pitched lick feed into another huge singalong chorus. It gradually built to a big ending, bringing an impressive debut gig to a close. You can get a taste for it in the video below:

If this debut gig is anything to go by then you’re going to be hearing a lot about Breather very quickly. There’s a very Thrice-like feeling to their intense melodic rock sound and we’re excited to hear what else they have to offer, with plenty more to come through the rest of the year. And, we had a chat with them prior to the gig so keep tuned for more on the band around the launch of their second single next month.

You can follow Breather on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and check out their music on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube. And you can follow Familiar Spirit on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and you can check out their music on Spotify and iTunes.

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