Monday 6 November 2017

On Stage: The War On Drugs @ AFAS Live

Only a few years ago The War On Drugs played smaller venues even though they made a couple of good albums. After the release of Lost In The Dream everything changed for this band and with the new LP A Deeper Understanding they have now made it to the larger venues.

The War On Drugs at AFAS Live Amsterdam, November 2 2017

Even though their music is definitely of a high standard, it’s not the band you would expect to make it big. They don’t have a big stadium sound with songs to sing along to with big spectacular live shows. But tonight it becomes clear they gained a new audience, the one that heard a few songs and decide to go see them play live with a group of friends and have a nice night out.

This crowd is loud tonight and unfortunately not in a good way. Around us several groups of people are chatting all night long, which makes it hard for me to get into the music. When they play a few of their well known songs like 'Under The Pressure' and 'Red Eyes' people turn to see the band and phones go up in the air, even singing along to the guitar riffs (yes, you can do that). When a more quiet song follows that is less known, they get more beers and return to their stories as if we’re in a big bar on a Saturday night where a band is playing in one of the corners. It is a big contrast with the show they played a few years back in Paradiso.

Enough about crowd annoyances and back to the music, which does please me a lot. On the new album the band has explored and deepened their sound even more, without compromising to anyone. This shows tonight as well with a great sounding performance where you can hear all the details. This is very important since it exposes all the layers in their music which is what makes it so good. I like the lazy feeling of songs like 'Pain'. Of course the epic 'Thinking Of A Place' is the centre piece of the show and it gets the performance it deserves with long guitar solos and sparkling play.

The string of lights are a very clever light plan for this show. It is quite subtle but it gives the show enough extras for this large venue. Of course the band sticks to playing the songs where front man Adam Granduciel only steps into the spot light when he’s singing but steps back when he’s done, blending in with the band again. Maybe that’s what draws all these people to this band. They don't have a big rock star vibe going but simply play amazing music. They are just too good for smaller stages.

All Pictures

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01. In Chains
02. Holding On
03. Pain
04. An Ocean in Between the Waves
05. Strangest Thing
06. Nothing to Find
07. Knocked Down
08. In Reverse
09. Red Eyes
10. Thinking of a Place
11. Under the Pressure
12. Clean Living
13. Eyes to the Wind
14. Burning
15. You Don't Have to Go

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