Sean McGowan @ The 1865, Southampton 15/12/18

Sold out, The 1865 hosts Sean McGowan and guests Cassava, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. and El Morgan for a Christmas bash. A homecoming for McGowan, it’s sure to live long in the memory of those present. El Morgan and Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. open, with enjoyable folk rock sets as the audience starts to increase. Cassava bring a more indie vibe to proceedings, deviating from the sound of the previous acts somewhat, but altogether it is a solid performance from the band.

As McGowan arrives on stage, the deafening roars of ‘he’s one of our own’ from the crowd really bring home what a momentous occasion this is, both for McGowan himself and for his local fans, who have witnessed his career develop to this point. ‘Mind the Doors’ kicks off album Son of the Smith, and does the same here, McGowan sounding like an acoustic Mike Skinner, before going into the folk-punk of ‘Off The Rails’. Although songs from Son of the Smith dominate the night, ‘£5.25’, an early song from the McGowan back catalogue appears early on. With less punk influence than some of his more recent work, it’s less of an assault on the audience, but lyrics such as “the rich get richer/poor struggle to survive’ clearly resonate with the sold-out crowd.

With the next few songs including ‘Romance Ain’t Dead’ and ‘Autopilot’ from Son of the Smith and ‘Clear Conscience’ and ‘Costa del Solution’ from 2017 release Graft and Grief, it’s clear that McGowan is a real talent. ‘Neverland’ is a stand-out, as he shows off his vocal prowess while offering more socio-political commentary. He gives thanks to the audience, his band and the support acts, to rapturous applause from the crowd, and culminates the set with an encore of ‘Millbrook Road’ and ‘No Show’.

Words by Adam England


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