Live Review: Counterfeit - The Garage, London 15/08/2019
Things have been a bit quiet in the COUNTERFEIT. camp since their debut album ‘Together We Are Stronger’ was released back in 2017. After what seemed like the wait of a lifetime, COUNTERFEIT. embarked on a small European tour to bless our ears with the kind of music that is full of urgency, and demands attention.
As a band, they are morphing into people who embrace their hardships and focus on trying to turn the negative energy into something positive. Taking to the stage at The Garage, in Islington, COUNTERFEIT. chose to debut their upcoming second album. Frontman Jamie Campbell-Bower explained that their debut album was written four years ago when he decided to give up drugs and to be sober, which meant that the process was a cathartic way of expressing his pain and grief. This time around, they’re celebrating the beauty of life – “I’m still a child at heart, I wanna remain a child.”
Bouncing around the stage with a permanent grin attached to his face, it felt like Bower was emulating the stage presence of Joe Talbot and Matty Healy – charming, assertive, and completely attentive to the demands of the crowd. COUNTERFEIT. are still as loud as ever, but there are some newer elements to their live show – a costume change early on in the set; a solo acoustic performance; and spoken word elements in the song ‘New Insane’ which has a chorus that makes you want to get down, dirty and sweaty. Think along the lines of Marilyn Manson’s ‘Beautiful People’ and you might be in the right direction.
“No matter how dark it gets; no matter how bleak it may seem; no matter how sad you are – in time it gets better […] you can pull yourself out of it.” The amount of talking that Bower does throughout the set, in order to introduce songs, is perfectly judged. From taking a moment to dedicate a song to his girlfriend (Pictures Of You) to addressing the murder of a journalist in Saudi Arabia (1144) and the story of writing a song about dying in a car crash on Sunset Boulevard to piss off the Kardashians, (All My Friends) it never becomes tedious.
COUNTERFEIT. are always a band whose show has been about the experience and interaction with the crowd. Despite them playing a set that was 99% unreleased songs, you never really felt separated from it all but you could definitely feel the unity when they ended their set with ‘Enough’ – the only song taken from their back catalogue. Despite declaring: “I’m the lead singer in a rock band and I have a ginormous ego” I think the lyrics of the last song sum up Bower and COUNTERFEIT. quite well enough: “I’ll label myself as a voice for the people who feel disenfranchised and fucked off again.”
Words by Tyler Damara Kelly
Photography by Ant Adams