REVIEW: JUDAS @ Empty Shop HQ

By Ashleigh Goodall

Before the gig, I had heard many good things about the London-based, indie-rock four-piece, Judas: the fact that they had played a multitude of festivals over the summer – including hitting up the main stage at Leeds festival – and had come to Empty Shop fresh out of playing a sold-out show at Newcastle Riverside the night before, meant I had high expectations. And I can safely say, I was not disappointed.

I walked into the venue just as the first support act – Ellipsis – were part way through an emotional acoustic cover of Drown by Bring Me The Horizon; an interesting choice, especially with a female vocalist, but nevertheless it worked very well as the audience seemed to be entirely captivated. Ellipsis’ set continued to create a chilled atmosphere with more acoustic covers of the likes of No Doubt and Radiohead, which was then completely shaken up by the second support act: five-piece punk band Gecko, who kicked things off with an energetic cover of Blink-182’s “Dammit.” Despite a few technical difficulties to start with, Gecko successfully managed to get the crowd pumped up with a few indie and punk covers from the likes of the ever-popular Arctic Monkeys, The Buzzcocks, and Green Day. The way that Gecko interacted with the crowd was excellent, and they even managed to get the crowd involved and singing along to one of their own original songs. Overall, Gecko’s performance was fun and enjoyable, and provided a great build up in atmosphere.

The main act, Judas, were well-received when they took to the stage: they started with “Call Me,” which featured catchy guitar riffs and a bassline which I couldn’t help but jam along to a little bit. The lead singer had an incredibly strong, distinctive voice, which I can best describe as a mash-up between the lead vocalist of Stereophonics, and Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill, whilst still maintaining its own unique sound. Judas’ second song – “Sister” – was quite similar in style and tempo to their opening song, but managed not to sound too ‘samey’ with the addition of some well-executed harmonies, and a fantastic guitar solo.

For their third song Judas changed tempo completely, for the slow and emotional ballad “Love Is My Enemy.” This was my personal highlight of the gig, as the song featured powerful, heartfelt lyrics which truly captivated me, as I could really feel the emotion in the vocalist’s voice. The band were also very good at engaging with the audience here, as I found myself singing along with many other members of the crowd (on instruction from the guitarist) to a song I had never heard before!

The venue – which was kooky and cute and I absolutely loved: if you have not yet been to Empty Shop HQ, I would thoroughly recommend you pay it a visit – was evidently a bit smaller than what Judas were used to, as they appeared to nearly trip over each other at times. However, the intimacy of the venue definitely played to Judas’ advantage in that in created a fantastic atmosphere, particularly during their final song – the fun and energetic “Youth of the Young Age,” which had a slight Arctic Monkeys vibe to it. The lead vocalist instructed everybody in the crowd “to jump at the chorus,” and they definitely did as they were told, resulting in the wooden floor in Empty Shop literally bouncing up and down – so you didn’t really have any other choice but to jump anyway! Whilst this left behind an excited buzz – which was an excellent parting gift – I was very surprised when Judas announced the conclusion of their set: I would have loved to have listened to them for at least another half an hour, and was disappointed that I only got to experience four songs. However, this is the only negative point I would make, as overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance – I would recommend Judas to anyone, especially rock and indie fans, and I personally have been listening to them on Spotify non-stop ever since!

Photograph: Ashleigh Goodall

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