As main support act Mike Hughes took to the stage the O2 Academy was filling up nicely. Solo performer Hughes was reminiscent of Bob Dylan but with a much more soulful voice. His powerful voice delivering clever Dylan-esque lyrics was genuinely gripping. He finished off a fine set with his own unique cover of ‘Dancing In The Dark’ by Bruce Springsteen.
As Exit Calm arrived on stage they instantly set the tone with their intro music and moody black and white visuals in the background. Simon’s driving, rumbling, bass combined with piercing drums and Nicky’s stunning, mesmeric, vocals produce truly mood altering music. Each song builds through intricate and uplifting bass with forceful drums, elevating you, until a euphoric final chorus or powerful ending.
Exit Calm are this generations The Stone Roses, in both a musical and cultural sense. They have a following which incorporates indie kids and modern day lad culture. The indie kids were on the outskirts appreciating their musical prowess while the lads where at the front jumping, shouting and jabbing their fingers to the sky. There are also similarities between singer Nicky Smith and Ian Brown as Nicky swaggers around the stage enticing the crowd. He has an effortlessly cool demeanor and during each song he is completely in the moment, there is no way that his on-stage persona is rehearsed or contrived as so many are. Exit Calm are also the best Manchester band that don’t actually come from Manchester, but they do possess a lot of qualities which would make people assume they are a product of that city.
The last few years spent in London have helped Exit Calm add another layer of maturity to their work. The lyrics have always been clever and thought provoking but they have taken it up a notch. Their latest single ‘The Rapture’ proves this by being everything you would except from an Exit Calm track but yet it is clearly the next step in their evolution. The crowd adored this eight track set but ‘The Rapture’ got the best reception of all. This was a performance of real bone shaking power, so much so that during the final song ‘Hearts And Minds’ I would not have been surprised if the burning smell which began to fill the room was from a blown speaker.