Saturday October 25
all photos courtesy of Lisa Stirling
This morning, a large amount of Prestonians woke up with the happiest bruises. The reason for that is that The Subways were back at 53 Degrees having not played Preston in far too long.
It was apparent straight from the instantly recognisable opening drumbeat of Oh Yeah that Preston was happy to have The Subways back. From there, the contagiously energetic Billy Lunn regularly sends the crowd into a frenzy, using every surface possible as a springboard, from the drum kit right through to the tower of speakers. Later in the gig, he dives into the crowd with a grin nearly as wide as the hectic moshpit their music is inspiring.
From Oh Yeah, the band rifle through their best songs from their back catalogue. The likes of Shake! Shake! and I Won’t Let You Down are all well received but notably, tracks from their third and fourth album don’t lose any of the momentum. As a band reaches this stage in their career, newer material can provide something a low moment but there’s never any danger of that being the case here.
That said, there are definite highlights. Rock & Roll Queen provokes a mass of limbs as fans climb over each other to get over the barrier. A couple of people fall over but they are immediately helped to their feet. Turnaround, a live favourite despite not being a single, is also a brewing pot of adrenaline. In the middle, the track falls away and the fiercely energetic Charlotte plays the bassline to the song, Billy instructing the crowd to go crazy. They absolutely oblige.
A slow version of With You from their debut album gives everyone a much needed rest before Girls & Boys (one of their best songs and mercifully reintroduced into their setlists) and closer It’s A Party send everyone home in absolute tatters. Afterwards, I went and bought a Subways top. Not because I particularly wanted one (although the design is great) but because my own attire was far too soggy.
The Subways prove many points here. They show that they’re one of the most fun and enthusiastic live bands in the country. They prove that their new material breaths new life into them and they prove that their back catalogue is deep enough that they can play 15 stunning tracks and you still wish they’d played a couple more. Where was Young for Eternity? Where was Strawberry Blonde? The best bands could all play 30 song sets, such is their quality, and The Subways are one of those bands for sure.
There’s a good chance this will be many people’s last ever gig at 53 Degrees, and it was the perfect way to say goodbye. The venue is unlikely to top The Subways between now and the end of its run. I’ve got my sore fingers crossed that they’ll be back in the city soon and that they’ll still be giving us one of the most giddy live experiences possible for years to come.