LIVE: Sleeping With Sirens / State Champs

Where: Union Chapel, Islington
When: 25/08/16
Rating: 4/5

State Champs 

state champs

Image: Promo

In this beautiful, if unusual, venue, State Champs are first to hit the stage, surrounded by religious architecture, stained glass windows and wooden pews- a world apart from their more familiar live settings of mosh pits and sweat. All eyes are on them and, despite seeming a little in awe of the whole thing, they don’t seem at all nervous in their performance. Sampling tracks from their own acoustic album was only to be expected tonight, but State Champs also throw in a few surprise numbers that make this a truly unique experience for fans and band alike. With tunes such as ‘Secrets’ and ‘Stick Around’ played alongside previously performed acoustic songs ‘Elevated’ and ‘If I’m Lucky’, State Champs soak up every last ounce of probably one of the most interesting shows they will ever be a part of. Faultless vocals and gorgeous instrumental competence is the icing on top of the cake for tonight’s wonderful support band who pull off a pop-punk acoustic gig with absolute style.

Sleeping With Sirens

sleeping with sirens

Image: Promo

Known for their vocalist’s original leggero tenor, it really was only a matter of time before Sleeping With Sirens made the most of their unique selling point with an acoustic album, and a bunch of tour dates to go along with it. Tonight they play to a sold-out Union Chapel, a working church in the heart of London that, this evening, will host one of the most surreal moments of this band’s career.

As if the fans weren’t already aware that this would be completely unlike any other Sleeping With Sirens gig, the band ramp it up a notch by beginning with a funky, jazzed-up version of one of their classic hits ‘If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn’ in a way that has never been heard at their shows before. A fair few tracks from their back-catalogue have been reinvented for tonight; for example, older tune ‘Who Are You Now’ takes on a much more delicate tone than its usual live intensity, while ‘With Ears to See, and Eyes to Hear’ exposes Kellin Quinn’s exceptional, highly-strung vocals in a way that we’ve never heard before, and it echoes around us for what seems like an eternity after his breath runs out.

Having had a taste of what an acoustic Sleeping With Sirens sounds like with the recent release of their unplugged album, there are a number of songs that ring pretty much as we would expect, and hope. ‘The Strays’, which adopts a much lighter vibe than most of their previous work even in the original studio recording, becomes only brighter and bouncier with the addition of an unplugged aspect. This pitch-perfect vulnerability continues with tracks such as ‘Save Me a Spark’ and the particularly beautiful ‘Iris’; this Goo Goo Dolls cover has never sounded so charming and poignant.

Even though we’ve all accepted that this is no normal rock show, it just wouldn’t be a Sleeping With Sirens gig without a finishing touch in the form of ‘If You Can’t Hang’; while this song is usually a full-on, post-hardcore floor-filler, tonight brings a new kind of grace and elegance to an otherwise angsty anthem. Don’t get us wrong though, it’s still catchy as hell- sorry, we meant catchy as heck.

Sleeping With Sirens have continually cranked things up a gear with their past few visits to the UK and their live shows have just got bigger and better; tonight, however, they strip everything back and, for one night only, it really works.

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