Saturday night saw me go to my 57th gig of the year (crikey), seeing my favourite band, The Hoosiers, for the 10th time, at Huntingdon Hall in Worcester. The show was particularly special as it was an acoustic gig, with a really respectful, quiet crowd, meaning the sound of the performance carried so well around the venue. I've been wanting to see the guys play an acoustic show for years now, and I saw about it a few months back and noted it was close to Oxford, where I'm at university, and recently decided fairly spontaneously to book a hotel and train tickets (which turned out to be a pretty great decision!)
As the venue was like a theatre, they had a no phones/photos rule, but the band had told the venue that I was coming to take photos, and I was told I could go in the balcony by myself (rather than lingering near the front, as if people saw me taking photos that would encourage them to take photos too). Sadly, I didn't have a lens that was cut out for shooting at that distance but got a few decent, if a tad unclear, photos - I've put some of the best up on my Flickr here.
As the seat I'd been allocated originally was 13 rows back, I was grateful for the superb and clear view that I got of the guys from the balcony, as well as the fact I was up there by myself for most of the set and could sing along to my heart's content! The set itself was stunning, it was certainly worth the wait to see them play acoustically, with them performing a 15 track set including all the hits alongside a few tracks from their latest album, The Secret Service, which they released independently just over a month ago.
Being in the balcony also meant I could film some of the set - but of course I made an effort to look beyond my phone and enjoy the performance in the moment, simply filming so I'd have the footage to watch back as tokens of the night. The set was actually fairly emotional, with me really happy to finally be seeing the guys play acoustic coupled with the fact I was surprised with a few tracks I hadn't expected to hear, a few of which made me cry quite a bit... but happy tears! The setlist was a little different to usual shows, with the band playing some tracks that they barely get to in the full band, electric set up. A highlight of the new tracks, for me, was (Don't Make) Eye Contact, the first ever live performance of this acoustic track. This was performed just after first album track, A Sadness Runs Through Him, the first time I've seen them perform this track live, and once again - worth the wait entirely.
A little later in the set, they played another first album track which rarely makes it onto the setlist, Money To Be Made, with Irwin unplugging his guitar and stepping in front of the microphone - a truly live, acoustic, and stunning performance. Returning to the stage following a foot stomping demand for an encore from the audience, Irwin took to the stage alone and began to play my favourite song of the band's, Everything Goes Dark. I'd heard the track a couple of years ago performed electrically, then last month on the band's tour, performed acoustic (but naturally there's a difference between a show of this sort and a show where the crowd are rowdy and anxious for the band to play Goodbye Mr A...) With Sam and Al each joining Irwin on stage separately, the performance gradually built up and was, in short, as superb as I could've hoped for.
Overall (if you haven't guessed so far!) I had such a brilliant night and I'm feeling really lucky to have been there for this really special evening. As always it was lovely to chat to the guys afterwards, they're genuinely some of the nicest guys I know and I can't encourage you enough to go and take a listen of the latest record, and then buy it, of course, to support independent music. And for the record - it wasn't all doom and gloom with me weeping in the balcony... here's a snippet of the outro to Unlikely Hero, with the audience all clapping along, a lot of fun!
For more info on the latest album, The Secret Service, and to purchase it on various formats, look at The Hoosiers official website here.