The equation’s simple. Albums aren’t selling like they did a decade ago. But gig tickets are in higher demand than ever. Therefore, mark the anniversaries of those unit-shifting LPs by playing them live from start to finish.
In the past year alone, U2, Manic Street Preachers, Interpol, and even The View have all done it. Now celebrating the 20th anniversary of their six-times platinum self-titled debut album, Third Eye Blind could rightfully add their name to the list.
But they haven’t. The slick quintet are so keen to dispel notions of nostalgia that they open their Roundhouse performance with two propulsive songs (Weightless and Company of Strangers) from last year’s We Are Drugs EP.
They don’t even save Semi-Charmed Life – the Third Eye Blind LP’s biggest hit, and still their highest-charting UK single – for the finale, instead dispatching a buoyant, crowd-assisted rendition within the first 30 minutes.
Unburdened by the forgettable filler tracks that come with performing an LP in its entirety, the band are able to put on a well-balanced show that’s truly representative of their two-decade career.
Only 2009’s Ursa Major doesn’t get a look-in during a 20-song set that ranges from the intimacy of the Blue album’s Deep Inside Of You (performed solo on acoustic guitar by frontman Stephan Jenkins) to the stadium-filling instrumental crescendo of Say It (from 2015’s Dopamine).
And regardless of the song, whether it’s the three-guitar machismo of Crystal Baller (from 2003’s Out Of The Vein), the loud-quiet-loud dynamic of 1997’s Thanks A Lot, or the beauty and tranquility of I Want You (featuring a nimble piano interlude by Alex Kopp), Jenkins and the band treat them with equal respect.
Even as lead guitarist Kryz Reid peels off one sleek solo after another, the five men on stage are clearly here to serve the songs rather than highlight their obvious talent through look-at-me rockstar showboating.
Even the charismatic Jenkins doesn’t say anything for the show’s first half, instead relying on universal hand gestures to prompt an audience who, admittedly, don’t require much encouragement at all. When he does eventually speak, during the Bowie-name-checking Rites Of Passage, it’s a single, well-chosen word: “London”.
After accepting a bunch of flowers from someone up front, Jenkins reveals it’s his birthday. “How excited I am to be spending it right here, right now,” he continues. And, judging from the response of the now ecstatic crowd, the feeling’s mutual.
By the time he leads them through a triumphant hand-clapping, na-na-na sing-along rendition of set closer Jumper, one of five singles spawned by Third Eye Blind, that crowd are in a state of jubilation that couldn’t possibly get more intense.
But when the band return for an encore of hard-rocking London and break-up anthem How’s It Going To Be, the joy in the room is so palpable that Jenkins’ final words of the night could only be: “Thank you for loving us.”
Live review of Third Eye Blind @ Roundhouse by Nils van der Linden on 27th September 2017. Photography by Kalpesh Patel.
Nils runs fantastic music blog Graffiti. Punctuated
Kalpesh has more music photography up on his flickr stream here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/somethingforkate