Live Review: Amplifier at Nottingham Rock City Basement – 20th March 2013

By on Friday, 22nd March 2013 at 2:00 pm

Photos by Jess Mason (@jessislost)

Emerging with a deep roar squirting murky black ink all over the assembled masses, ‘The Octopus’ emerges from the swaying bulk of headbangers. From above, they almost look like waves on a steady tide, as the swell gets rougher Sel Balamir, Matt Brobin, Steve Durose and Alexander Redhead of Amplifier adopt their stances atop the small stage in Rock City’s basement in Nottingham.

Still though the crowd, bar their heads, are deathly still. There is no moshing, no punters scrambling for the bar, no crowd surfers. Just a bobbing ocean like mass of people transfixed on the four figures on stage, marshalled by the battle hardened Balamir, who stands erect like a Captain Nemo (for octopi).


Not sure if I’ll stick with the sea references though; I’m starting to get a bit queasy, and ‘The Octopus’ isn’t the main event this time around. No, it’s just the back drop to Amplifier’s gig promoting their newly released album ‘Echo Street’. As a record, ‘Echo Street’ is more understated than the band’s previous efforts. But, saying that, it’s difficult when the band’s last record was a double album rock opus with an accompanying novel.

As expected then, the guitars from square one are wailing ferociously as Balamir and co. slip seamlessly from ‘Mary Rose’ to ‘The Wave’. From the beginning it’s obvious that the band are struggling on the small stage, or as Sel aptly puts it, seeing as there are “too many rhinos on just one stage”, to almost-quote the band’s debut single ‘The Consultancy’.

The tone continues to be heavy, bordering on the aggressive as it looks like Brobin and Balamir both want to leap into the passively demanding crowd. Throughout the first three songs the audience are treated to the full scope of what the Manchester-based band are about. With space age grooves that wouldn’t be out of place on Titan, and noodling riffs which see every hair on the back of your neck stand on edge, before the huge drops come in and every belt/trouser line immediately tightens in the room (parental guidance will be needed).


With the concert starting at only 8 o’clock, by eight thirty the mood remains a mix of silent admiration and pensive glares. That is all broken, as ‘Motorhead’ from the band’s debut effort falls into the ether with a whispering edge of the industrial stylings of Nine Inch Nails, combined with experimental qualities of Steve Wilson’s Porcupine Tree.

With music that roars like Amplifier’s though the inevitable stand-off between frontman and musician does occur. But all is rectified as the group tear into ‘Panzer’ to the delight of the assembled masses, who continue to bob and sway like abandoned dinghies on a moonlit evening. The chugging all-consuming rhythm of ‘Panzer’ gets everyone more animated five minutes in as the Balamir and Brobin’s solos begin to maraud with the strength of… well… a Panzer tank I suppose.

As the band departs for the briefest of rests before the encore, the silent approval of the band continues. A few of the more raucous punters cheer but, the majority of 200 or-so strong audience stand glued rigid to the spot awaiting the airing of the band’s newest single ‘Matmos’ that went alongside the set closer’ Airborne’. The latter finishes off the gig with a chaotic crashing of symbols and roaring of Fenders, but as the set finishes the true measure of this band becomes apparent.

Being the veterans of their niche, you’d expect Amplifier to finish the night in their dressing room with beer flowing and waiting for their merch to quickly sell out. But no, they head straight to the front door to greet their adoring fans as if they were old friends. Friendliness, experience and skill combined, it’s easy to see why Amplifier are producing some of the most powerful and progressive rock music out there at the moment.

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8 Responses

3:19 pm
22nd March 2013

Live Review: Amplifier at Nottingham Rock City Basement – 20th March 2013 via @tgtf

3:28 pm
22nd March 2013

RT @tgtf: New post: Live Review: Amplifier @amplifierband at Nottingham Rock City @Rock_City_Notts Basement – 20th March 2013: http://t. …

[…] – For […]

5:05 pm
1st April 2013

we’ve updated John’s live review of Amplifier @amplifierband at @Rock_City_Notts Basement with @jessislost’s photos:

5:47 pm
1st April 2013

RT @tgtf: we’ve updated John’s live review of Amplifier @amplifierband at @Rock_City_Notts Basement with @jessislost’s photos: http://t. …

5:47 pm
1st April 2013

RT @tgtf: we’ve updated John’s live review of Amplifier @amplifierband at @Rock_City_Notts Basement with @jessislost’s photos: http://t. …

7:32 pm
1st April 2013

One of my favorite reviews and gigs in a while. Have a read if you love a bit of prog… #Nottingham

[…] correspondent, who found himself in Nottingham to catch Sel Balamir of Amplifier before their show in Rock City’s basement that night. (Rock City, if you were wondering, holds a special place in both our hearts now, because […]

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