INHEAVEN have been going from strength to strength, releasing their debut album in September last year and touring whenever they can, as well as preparing for a North American tour supporting Pale Waves. Before that though, INHEAVEN are playing a few shows in the UK, kicking off at the Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth.
I made it to the venue a couple of minutes before the doors were due to open, getting an Uber thanks to the lacking punctuality of our rail service, I was slightly behind schedule. There were only a handful of us waiting outside, so we made the obligatory small talk, surprised that the crowd for tonight was so small. We needn’t have worried, as once allowed inside the venue, it gradually started to fill up, meaning that even the support bands faced a decent crowd.
The first band to take to the stage were Isle of Wight three-piece Freazy. Their combination of Pale Waves-esque dream pop and Wolf Alice fuzz-rock went down well with the crowd, with the expertly-titled ‘I’m Not Frigid, I Just Don’t Fancy You’ being a highlight. Following a short break in which I had a chance conversation with INHEAVEN guitarist Jake Lucas outside, Brighton band Thyla entertained the crowd with a lively set, their style slotting in well between the sounds of Freazy and INHEAVEN.
At 10pm, INHEAVEN showed up on stage. I had originally planned to stay near the back, keeping my distance from the more energetic fans, in order to enjoy and appreciate the music. However, by the time the first chorus of opener ‘Bitter Town’ rolled around, I and a few others felt compelled to move closer to the front. This was a choice that paid off, as ‘Baby’s Alright’, ‘Vultures’ and ‘World On Fire’ received a raucous reaction from fans, the political overtones of the lyrics not going unnoticed.
It’s testament to the band, and their fans, that although the older songs went down a storm, every recent release also had a good reception. ‘Do You Dream’ and ‘Real Love’, both tracks from the album, bookended ‘All There Is’ and ‘Drift’, two songs which have been around for a while. At this point, the band announced that they’re set to play new track ‘Sweet Dreams Baby’ live for the first time, the crowd vociferously showing their appreciation.
Culminating the set were a few of their older songs, with ‘Meat Somebody’ instantly taking me back to my A-levels, and fan-favourite ‘Treats’ getting possibly the reaction of the night. It was at this point that I had to throw myself in the pit rather than stand on the sidelines. It was followed by the more mellow song ‘Wasted My Life On Rock & Roll’, which allowed everyone to catch their breath.
The set ended all too quickly, the shoegaze-inspired ‘Regeneration’ the last song of the night. The crowd clamoured for an encore, with old B-side ‘Tangerine’ being requested by fans, but instead bassist Chloe Little compromised by getting behind the merch stand to chat to fans and take photos with them after the gig.
This was the third time I’d seen INHEAVEN, little under a year after the first, and it’s clear to see how the band have grown since then. The setlist has expanded – as have the crowds – but although they may be playing in slightly larger venues to slightly larger audiences, their live performances remain thrillingly intimate. They interact with the crowd on stage, and spend time with fans after the show, while selling their own zines. It’s refreshingly DIY, and a welcome break from seeing bands going through the motions in soulless O2 venues.
Words and Photo by Adam England