Breathe Panel – The Western, Brighton – 13th September 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

Brighton’s Breathe Panel have really stepped things up a notch in 2018. Not only have the played some great shows – such as their fantastic Great Escape slot at One Church – but they released their debut, eponymous record back in July. Produced by MJ of Hookworms, we described it as “Touching on shoegaze tendencies, with Nick Green’s luscious vocals at the forefront of every track, it’s an album perfect for the summer”. After two months, they finally returned to showcase the record at The Western in an impressive performance that perfectly highlighted the professionalism and talents of the band.

A new venue for music in Brighton, having put on their first ‘proper’ gig the night before with Chicago punks The Sueves, The Western looks a promising venue for live music in the future. With fairy lights surrounding the upstairs area, with posters and neon lights behind the bands, it’s an intimate setting that recalls an inside venue at a bohemian festival. No doubt better for slow, more melancholic music, it could easily find its way onto the venue circuit in the coming months.

A brilliant example of that came from first performer, Spiritcake, who brought his melancholic pop to the ambience of the room. With a voice that sounds like both Jeff Buckley and Thom Yorke, and lyrical content that equals the sadness of both performers (“That was a sad song, the next one’s an angry song, and the last one is angry and sad” he stated), it was an incredibly atmospheric performance. Getting the crowd to sit down for most of the performance, too, was an exceptional idea and one that really brought out Spiritcake’s – and The Western’s – quirks superbly.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for next band, Dreamwave. With a sound that relies heavily on extended breakdowns and a prog-rock-influenced sound, The Western’s soundsystem couldn’t always handle the bombardment of noise. Additionally, the set was way too meandering at times and, for a support slot, lasted for far too long, even exceeding the length of Breathe Panel’s. On another night, in a different venue with a shorter set, this could have been impressive but, sadly, it fell a little flat.

Having learnt their trade across multiple venues throughout the city, it’s no surprise that Breathe Panel have come to sound incredibly tight as a band. Nevertheless, this performance was one of their most impressive for sure, with their shoegaze music sounding impeccable. From the opening notes of ‘On My Way’, their debut single back in 2016, both the band and the crowd were eased into a night of faultless indie-pop.

“We released an album in July” stated frontman Nick Green. “We’re going to play songs from it tonight” he followed. With album tracks ‘The Time, Always’, ‘Hue’, and final song ‘Carmine’, it instantly showcased the quality of their record and just how underrated as a band they are. Worthy of the plaudits gained recently by the likes of Our Girl and Black Honey, Breathe Panel are certainly one of our finest bands on the live circuit.

Liam McMillen