Demob Happy – The Haunt, Brighton – 14th April 2018

Photo by Liam McMillen

The dictionary definition for ‘demob happy’ is, “Feeling elated because one is about to leave a stressful or responsible job or situation.” So how perfect that Newcastle-via-Brighton rockers, Demob Happy, brought the Holy Doom tour to their adopted home city on a Saturday, the day that most are free to do whatever they like. Many people, wisely, chose to spend it celebrating and dancing to Demob Happy’s excellent and intense live show – a decision that I don’t think anyone from the sold-out audience would regret. It was an exceptional commemoration of the band’s career to date, with a particular emphasis on the banger-laden new record which is already beginning to sound like an instant live classic.

First support on the night came from Reading’s Valeras, who are used to support slots with indie darlings; having supported the likes of Fickle Friends, The Amazons and The Wombats in recent months. It has to be said too, that, on this showcase, they are more than worthy of sharing stages with those bands. With washes of guitars, and an impressive mixing of cadence, they set the tempo for a grunge-filled evening delightfully. Likewise, Brighton’s Heirloom brought their brand of gloomy pop to the proceedings. The five-piece exhibited a sophisticated smattering of balletic reverb-drenched guitar and an atmospheric and colourful rhythm section.

Yet both bands felt like a precursor to a truly special homecoming set. Opening song ‘Liar in Your Head’, a song that frontman Matthew Marcantonio told Brightonsfinest was the, “Most honest representation of what we wanted to do with this sound”, kicked things off with an almighty bang. Based around a supreme riff, it truly showcased the best of Demob Happy: chunky, monstrous riffs with an almost delicate melodic edge. With the first roar of Adam Godfrey’s guitar, the crowd were like putty in the band’s hand. Swiftly following this with the likes of Holy Doom tracks ‘Loosen It’, ‘Spinning Out’ and ‘Fake Satan’, Demob Happy not only staked their claims for the best Brighton band, but also for the best show of 2018 so far.

Importantly, though, they still made time for the oldies. ‘Succubus’, one of the best tracks from their debut album, 2015’s Dream Soda, and arguably the song that put them on the musical map, was embraced with a heroes welcome. It’s rock and roll of the grubbiest order but, crucially, it’s got a sheen that makes it irresistible to listen to. Most of this comes from Marcantonio, whose voice is much better than it has any right to be. The best example of this comes from ‘I Wanna Leave (Alive)’, which showcases the sort of higher-pitched vocals that Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme would be proud of, all the while offering up one of the dirtiest riffs of the night.

On this type of form it’s simply remarkable that Demob Happy aren’t brushing shoulders with some of rock and roll’s most elite performers. With the heavyweight riffs of Royal Blood, the swagger of Arctic Monkeys and the confidence of Jack White, it’s only a matter of time before Demob Happy are gracing far bigger stages than The Haunt. There was an intense love-in between both the band and their adoring fans, a whole heap of dancing and more crowd-surfing and stage invasions than you could shake a stick at. There’s just nothing to dislike about a Demob Happy gig.

Liam McMillen