Nuneaton, UK22nd July, 2016
By Mark Johnson
It’s been a year of firsts for Swedish four-piece Normandie. In the lead up to their first full length record the band also experienced a loss of band members and a change in style. Now, in support of their anthemic alt-rock debut Inguz, Normandie arrive to play their first shows in the UK.
Never Hill opened the night with a surprisingly accomplished set. Vocalist Adam Ross owns the performance with his soulful voice that’s reminiscent of Emarosa’s Bradley Walden, but sadly the band’s songs don’t quite match the quality of his voice just yet. However, Never Hill show a lot of potential and are certainly ones to watch as they continue to grow and improve. Breathe in the Silence have the songs and the stage presence to get the crowd nicely warmed up. Their heavy alt-rock is well matched to this tour and with excellent vocals and interesting instrumentals to back it up, the five-piece are an impressive live act.
Normandie’s set was marred by a series of unfortunate events, making the performance not entirely representative of the band’s abilities. A broken van contributed to a late arrival and after a swift change over and no sound check, the first half of the set was a fight against a poor mix. The backing track was far too prominent over the live instruments, leading to a strange mix of volumes and too much reliance on pre-recorded effects. Inguz’s only flaw is being overproduced and having such a prominent backing track playing during the set doesn’t help the conveyance of raw emotion and power that live performances thrive on.
Lacking the time for a thorough warm up, vocalist Philip Strand struggled to hit the right notes early on, but overcame this as the set went on. It’s amazing how quickly a performance can change once a band feels comfortable and by the mid-way point the creases were ironed out and the band got into full flow. The infectious “Something New” emerged as one of the stand-out songs of a revived set, Strand bounding around the stage and getting the crowd involved. Sadly, just as the performance got going it had to be cut short due to the venue’s curfew.
When the balance is right Normandie are a fantastic live act, set closer “Collide” proving the point with its huge chorus and stomping beats. Without the technical problems there’s no doubt that the performance would’ve been markedly different, such is the talent and potential of the band, making them a must see next time around when hopefully everything goes according to plan.