My first introduction to Athlete’s music was during their opening performance for Snow Patrol’s Final Straw tour at Kool Haus back in 2005. I remember watching them perform and being memorized by each song. They were truly fantastic. After the show, I even went as far as to declare that Athlete put on a better show than Snow Patrol. My friends who saw the show with me readily agreed.
Fast forward to Monday night, the UK four-piece returned to promote their North American release of Black Swan. Supported by openers Carney, the band performed for a surprisingly sparse audience. However, what the crowd lacked in numbers, they made up for in vigour. And I soon realized I was surrounded by mostly long-time fans like myself.
Front man Joel Pott was all smiles and clearly relaxed when the band took stage, taking the opportunity to reintroduce himself on stage after a minor technical glitch with the monitors that prevented him from hearing his own vocals. A fan shouted, “you sound great!” in which Pott responded, “Yeah, but I want to be able to hear myself because I sound so good.” What followed was an incredible set of distinctly British (and distinctly Athlete) pop songs including “El Salvador”, “Black Swan Song” and my personal favorite, “Twenty-Four Hours”. “Rubik’s Cube” and their biggest hit “Wires” was saved for the encore and received extended applause to end a nearly 90-minute set.
Pott and bassist Carey Willetts appeared on the floor shortly after the lights came on, much to the delight of myself and those dedicated enough to remain. Steady conversation about music, soccer and more music went long into the evening and onto the street as one pub changed to the next. It transformed what was already a great evening into a once in a lifetime experience and has been cemented as one of the absolute highlights in my concert photography adventures.