If you’ve ever heard a person tell you that they can taste a number or that a colour has a certain smell, then they’ll have the peculiar condition known as synesthesia. This miraculously strange phenomenon shows how complex the brain truly is and, in the spirit of this, ‘Synesthesia’ just so happens to be the title of Courage My Love’s latest album. Travelling the mighty distance from Canada to Leeds is nothing to turn your nose up at, but this trio made the epic journey to share this record with us.
Santiagos is by no means the most glamourous of venues, in fact there are probably more sweat particles in the air than oxygen, but it served as the perfect intimate place for Courage My Love to get close and personal with their fans.
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Local New Gravers in Curses and Cures opened the show with a less than enthusiastic cluster of tracks. Luckily the lads in Bad Machines swooped in to save the audience from their awkward slumber. Previously known as They Say Fall, the newly formed outfit delighted with their very first live show, and their collection of gravelly rock tracks. Even more impressively, vocalist Kehn-Paul Gembalczyk admitted he had foot surgery only two months beforehand, but this didn’t stop him from throwing some mad shapes around the tightly packed room.
Finally, Leeds veterans As Sirens Fall completed the support acts, with vocalist Mikey Lord reminding us that in the light of the difficult and testing present, that music and shows remain as they always have been: a safe place for all. And casually borrowing Dan Dunn [of Accident/Happy] to help out with closer ‘Smoke’ was a stroke of genius.
As Courage My Love politely and quietly set up for the evening, the trio seemed almost unassuming in their role of pop rock stars. But their ordinary, average Joe façade was lifted the second the lights dimmed and the riffs reverberated off the walls. Blasting through Synesthesia belters ‘Walls’ and ‘Kerosene’, the room exploded into life with their sassy, poppy brand of shimmy shaking rock n roll. Not only do they put the rock into pocket rocket, they firmly pound it right in there.
Praise in particular must be given to drummer Phoenix Arn-Horn, whose determined, punchy enthusiasm was amazing to watch. Always on hand to give hugely complementary backing vocals and the cheeky ‘woo-oo’, Phoenix made damn sure she didn’t fade into the background. This coupled with twin sister Mercedes Arn-Horn’s efforts on vocals, especially on big tracks like ‘Two Headed Monster’ and ‘Never Gonna Change’ were incredible. With every hair flip and strum of the guitar, she completely owned that stage and the entire room. Interspersing synth with driving riffs transforms quite tricky subjects into upbeat, exhilarating tracks you can’t help but dance to, but this seems to be what Courage My Love do best.
Being on the scene since 2009, this trio have undoubtedly got their live sets down to a fine art, down to the repeatedly admiration they so clearly and profoundly express to their fans. The evening drawing far too quickly to a close, the synth from ‘The Year I Disappeared’ sunk deep into your ears, bringing more of a smile to your lips.
As the inevitable words ‘one more song’ echoed from the crowd, Mercedes asked the very rhetorical question: ‘How would you feel about two more songs’? The quickest yes in history followed closely by the biggest eruption of the night as Mercedes dedicated Becoming classic ‘Dark Wood, Dark Water’ to their fans. Bringing it home with highly addictive ‘Tough Love’ saw bassist Brandon Lockwood reach new heights as the heavily sweaty audience engaged in the biggest of trust exercises: allowing him to crowd-surf while he nailed every riff. And more amazingly than his aerial bass skills being completely on point, he survived this incredible feat. Talk about ending the show on a high note, now that’s rock n roll!