Better Than Never – Level III, Swindon, 09/08/17

Better Than Never tour poster

Openers Maypine were faultlessly energetic. This was a mid-week show, but vocalist Jason Payne didn’t let the small crowd size dampen his spirits. Faultlessly seguing from their first track (unsure of the title!) into ‘A Little Sooner’, Jason leaped into the air, hardly breaking a sweat as he shimmied throughout their set.

Maypine used their half an hour stage time to play their EP, ‘In the Back of My Mind’, in full. Being unfamiliar with the band until this show, it was the perfect way to discover them. From the bounce of recent single ‘North/South Divide’ to their cover of Coldplay’s ‘Fix You’, it’s obvious why Maypine have received so much support. They’ve been a band for just twelve months, but they have something special.

Things got personal during ‘Never Far Apart’, an emotionally evocative acoustic-driven ballad. Jason confided that the band were raising money for a charity called Sands (stillborn and neonatal death society), who offer counselling, therapy and help for those who lose children. Sharing that they “really helped” his parents, the band dived in to a beautiful tribute which brought tears to my eyes. If you’d like to learn more about Sands, you can visit them here.

Joking “that’s not our normal thing, as you can probably tell… But this is!”, the somber atmosphere quickly dissipated with upbeat track ‘Inside Out’, and a snippet from pop-punks legends New Found Glory’s ‘My Friends Over You’.

Maypine aren’t doing anything vastly different from the other UK pop-punk bands currently breaking out, but their open and honest attitudes make it easy to connect with them. Listen to their EP here, and keep an eye out for any future tour announcements.

Setlist:


A Little Sooner
North/South Divide
Fix You cover
Never Far Apart
Inside Out
My Friends Over You snippet
Day After Day

I last reviewed Swindonians A Way With Words when they supported Boston Manor at this same venue. Over the past two months, they’ve decided to shake their set up a little bit: the songs have been shuffled, and a cover of ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules has been introduced.

I can’t think of a more perfect fit than A Way With Words and ‘Mad World’. Vocalist Antony Willis suits the song down to a T. The melancholy track sounds as though it could have been written by the band themselves, perfectly complementing the songs on their ‘Mr. Anger’ EP. Hopefully they’ll keep it in their set for a while, because their re-imagined version brings the life back to a song which has been covered consistently for almost two decades.

The four-piece have built themselves a solid fanbase in Swindon with their regular live appearances, so it was no surprise that a large amount of the crowd were solely in attendance to see A Way With Words. With the audience loudly chanting back the words to ‘Crowded’ and ‘Paper Thin’, it won’t be long before A Way With Words are headlining Level III for themselves. Until then, you can catch them headlining The Victoria on August 26th.

Setlist:

Better That Way
Crowded
Mad World cover
Reflections
Mr. Anger
Mariana
Over The Top
Paper Thin

Having attended Better Than Never‘s EP launch show in Oxford back in December, I knew their set was going to be full of fun – if utterly generic – pop-punk tunes. Couldn’t you tell by the tour poster emblazoned with pizzas?!

Generic doesn’t mean bad, it just means you know what you’re getting. That’s certainly the case with Better Than Never, who are still touring the ‘Head Under Water’ EP almost a year after its release. Squeezing in all of the songs from their most recent release, as well as a couple of old favourites, there was something for everyone in this set.

Unfortunately, the band didn’t get the reception they deserved. The majority of the audience seemed disinterested, and though labelmates Maypine were dancing at the front of the crowd, it didn’t make up for the overall lack of enthusiasm. Compared to the loud singalongs during A Way With Words set, Better Than Never couldn’t muster up much of a response from the attendees.

They still worked their butts off, though. Interacting with the crowd throughout, there were a few humorous bits of banter that brought a smile to every face. Meanwhile, vocalist James Harris refused to be disheartened by the low levels of energy in the room. Jumping into the crowd during closing track ‘Back of the Line, Kid’, he paced backwards and forwards in a frenzy. It made for a climactic end to an otherwise forgettable set.

Better Than Never were on the top of their game when ‘Head Under Water’ was released. Unfortunately, they seem to be floundering at this point. Fingers crossed their next release will put them back where they belong, and will help them finally break into the mainstream. They’re such hard workers that they definitely deserve it.

Setlist:

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Dreamland Ain’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be
Lowhill Lane
Forty Eight
Panama
Learning To Swim
Back of the Line, Kid