VENUE – BLACKPOOL THE WATERLOO BAR
DATE – 23rd July 2023
Words and photographs – Graeme Wright
“It’s deadly serious music by four blokes who don’t take themselves too seriously at all” – Steve Wright
I’ve written more than once about Empyre (a band who are still at number one in my album of the year charts) but the above comment from a friend encapsulates the band more than the thousands of words I’ve written about them ever could. The latest album ‘Relentless’ is a huge collection of songs. Dark, melancholy and intelligent music played by musicians of the highest quality and sung by a frontman who was born to present these words to the public. The Waterloo Bar in Blackpool is packed to the rafters tonight despite the horrendous weather outside and there are clearly as many people here to see Empyre as those who have attended to see headliners The Damn Truth.
The band enter the stage and immediately launches into ‘Waking Light’ which is a brooding and affecting song and is one of my favourites from this band. It’s clear that these guys are musicians of the highest quality. Everything seems effortless, the vocals are pitch perfect and we are barely a minute into the set and it’s clear that this crowd is on board already, embracing music that is both highly original while still being accessible to fans of Rock music no matter what your preferences are.
‘Parasites’ is next and a beautiful choral opening builds to another heartfelt track with a core of steel. ‘ Hit And Run’ is my all-time favourite song from this band and it’s the highlight of the set for me. I need to make a note about the hilarious self-deprecating banter between the singer and the crowd. I was trying to take pictures of the band set and probably ruined a fair number of them because I was laughing out loud. It’s highly probable that some people wouldn’t understand this kind of humour, but for us Brits in Blackpool, it is meat and drink to this audience. #Killthevibe indeed!
‘Only Way Out’ from the band’s first album is up next and it’s testimony to the musicians that the older material flows seamlessly with the songs from the new record. The title track from the new album ‘Relentless’ follows and any audience members who were on the fence have decided to join the party (sorry Henrik, I know that word is frowned upon but it’s true!)
‘New Republic’ closes out the set and the audience is clearly disappointed that this is the end of tonight’s set by Empyre. I always think it’s a sign of how well a band have performed on a tour when they are genuinely surprised at the number of T-shirts they have sold, already having run out of some sizes this early in the tour. However, there has been a buzz around this band for some time now and it would be no shock to me if they were playing arena-sized shows before too long. A great band, a fantastic show and a brilliant bunch of guys. Get out and see them if you can, buy their records and merchandise and check out their social media pages for some hilarious interactions with their fans. Highly recommended.
Henrik Steenholdt – Vocals/Guitar
Did Coles- Guitar
Grant Hockley – Bass
Elliot Bale – Drums
- Waking Light
- Hit And Run
- Only Way Out
- New Republic