REVIEW: Vans Acoustic Basement UK Tour

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The final date of the Vans Acoustic Basement Tour heads into town. As this tour has never been done in the UK before, there was an uncertainty as to how the night was going to plan out. With Geoff Rickly (former member of Thursday), Koji, Rob Lynch and Brian Marquis on the bill, my expectations for this night were high.

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Brian Marquis, originally from Boston Massachusetts is up first to sing his heart out. Following the disbanding of Therefore I Am, Brian Marquis, he set up the Vans Acoustic Basement stage and set his heart on the mellower, softer, soulful part of life. His début album Blood & Spirits is going to be released on May 13th and from what I heard tonight, this album is going to be a game changer. Débuting new tracks such as From Boston, I’m Still Chasing You and Burn The Bridge, Swim The River, Marquis sets the standard for the night. Changing the dynamics in most of his song, it’s gives him the ability to showcase the beauty, hypnotism and charm in his voice.

Having a voice which is so powerful that it has the ability to fill the room, Marquis sends shivers down my spine. Introducing the harmonica into some of his songs, he shows off his true musicianship …playing guitar and harmonica at the same time really isn’t easy! His levels of confidence bounce across the room like a boomerang. Playing the song 84 Rookie Card from his 2011 EP Snow Damage, the audience were captivated with the peacefulness of this track. The last song of the set was a song called Breathing In Ghosts, the ending track from his début album.

Pre-order Brian Marquis first full length EP Blood & Spirits here.

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Being the only UK-based musician on the bill, Rob Lynch (Stamford, Lincolnshire) has quite a following. Having shared stages with Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly and The Front Bottoms; played festivals such as Slam Dunk, Hit the Deck and Download Festival, it is certain that this gentleman is making his mark on the UK music scene. With a unique voice which is completely different to anything I’ve ever heard, there was definitely something special in the air. Most of the songs on his set list tonight were from his upcoming début album All of These Nights in Bars Will Somehow Save My Soul, which will hopefully be released in September.

One man and his guitar can certainly go a long way and Lynch proves this by mixing folk-punk lyrics, acoustic rhythms and memorable chorus’.  His vocals often differentiate between smooth, soft and gravelly; making the tone of his voice a little off-putting to begin with, but the more you listen, the more you fall in love with it. Not forgetting his older releases such as Hawking and Plans, the set-list is one which any fan should be proud of.

The song Whisky was written about his father who died when he was 21 and how they stayed up late, playing each other’s favourite songs. The meaning behind the song made me get goosebumps all over. Finishing the set off with his latest single My Friends and I, Lynch managed to lift everyone’s spirits with a crowd sing-a-long to finish.

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The penultimate musician of the night, Koji (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) has a voice that can melt butter. Opening the set with Hemlock, I got goosebumps right from the beginning. He has a tone of voice which is so beautiful,  that it has the ability to take you to a better place.

Being a complete believer in peace, positive vibes and love, he takes the time to put his body and soul into the music that he produces. Koji is such a kind-hearted individual, that halfway through his set, he thanks the fans, artists and managers for letting him have a shot in life – ‘I am lost without art. I sing to remind myself that I have value, that my fans have value. I look for human moments in everything, and it make me feel  united in rooms when I’m performing’.

With the release of his recent album Crooked In My Mind, he has stepped up a level with his musicianship. He makes each individual song a pleasure to hear by combining soulful melodies and passionate lyrics. Even though his vocal tone can sometimes get somewhat gritty, there is no reason that Koji won’t succeed in anything that he does.

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Photo Credit: Dani Fresh Photography

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The long-awaited UK return of Geoff Rickly (Dumont, New Jersey) is something which die-hard Thursday fans wouldn’t want to miss. As Thursday had never been able to make it to the UK for their 2011 farewell tour, Rickly played an intimate, acoustic set which was packed to the brim of the most-known and well-loved Thursday songs.

Starting the set off with Time’s Arrow, there was a silence in the air. He has a voice which is so powerful, angelic and soft that it makes you stop everything; listen with all your heart and bask in its sensationalism. His solo songs Going To Hell and New Sympathies are a step up from those which he produced with Thursday. They’re soothing, relaxing and they make the most of his vocal range. What I love about him is that he acknowledges his past, and what made him who he is today. He recognizes that Thursday were successful but also that they were completely different to the music that he creates as a solo artist. He rewrote Understanding in a Car Crash to play it acoustically, as it was impossible to play by himself.

The final song of the night and tour happens to be one originally sung by a musical legend. Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City is a truly beautiful song about love, luck and hope. All of the musicians from the night joined the stage to celebrate the end of the tour in the best way possible; surrounded by positivity, friendship and music.

—Setlist—

1. Time’s Arrow

2. This Side of Brightness

3. Going To Hell

4. Standing On The Edge of Summer

5. Understanding in a Car Crash

6. This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb

7. New Sympathies

8. Rape Me (Nirvana cover)

9. Turnpike Divides

10. Atlantic City (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Review by Nikki Limbrick