THRICE. Forum, London. 25.08.16

The last time Thrice were here they were going away forever. Or at least for a very long time. The dreaded word ‘hiatus’ was fresh in the air and when the band waved goodbye to a packed Forum in 2012 they seemed to mean it, there was no longing in their eyes, only resolution, almost relief. Which only makes it a sweeter surprise that they’re back tonight. Make no mistake, it might have the timing of a festival warm-up gig but this is a big deal. Thrice have returned, not for nostalgia, at least not completely, but with a new album to play and the promise of a much brighter future.

I’m sure the occasion isn’t lost on the band but there are few ways to tell for sure. Even though there is smoke and booming electronic bass in the air for effect, they amble onstage in their typical unassuming fashion, all the presence of your local pub covers trio. They’ve always let their music do the talking though and ‘Hurricane’ is the perfect reintroduction. A huge song, a real highlight from that comeback record, it benefits from sound that is a touch quiet but crystal clear. And even though it’s one of the hottest, muggiest days of the year in London, the crowd welcome Thrice back with open arms and oodles of energy.

In fact, for such a modest outfit it’s incredible how much electricity Thrice generate. ‘Silhouette’ could be a simple steamroller in lesser hands but hits hard and smart thanks to the brilliant layers Thrice have added over the years, ‘Of Dust And Nations’ is powered along by Eddie Breckenridge in the form of his life, and ‘All The World Is Mad’ sounds so much better than on record where it already sounds so good. Most impressive though is the crowd reaction to more new songs. ‘Black Honey’ and ‘Blood on the Sand’ inspire arms-aloft singalongs equal to and perhaps even greater than those for the band’s classics. Maybe it’s because Thrice records are rarely easy but always so rewarding- the people here have studied these songs and in the front rows the atmosphere is almost religious.

It’s probably the heat, so sticky that the walls of the venue are running with sweat, but the energy doesn’t last. ‘The Long Defeat’, the most languid of the new cuts aired, starts a mid-set lull that lasts just slightly too long to make you forget about the humidity or that guy who keeps pressing his elbow into your side.

Thrice are just too damn good to leave you hanging though. ‘Hold Fast Hope’ is a hell of a gear change, Dustin Kensrue shouting so hard he might pass out any second, ‘Yellow Belly’ a big-riffed reminder that Thrice should play way more songs from ‘Major/Minor’, and ‘In Years To Come’ a brilliant blast from the past. They finish with a wondrous rendition of ‘The Earth Will Shake’ and by its powerful crescendo the Forum’s quiet, clear sound has become a thunderous roar that echoes long after the band depart, the song’s sterling hooks hummed by gig-goers all the way down Highgate Road. All of a sudden it feels like there have been no good gigs since Thrice played here last and it’s already time to start counting down the days until they are here again. What a band.

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