It’s always a nice feeling when a project that you’ve been following for a good few years finally makes it to your city. I was entranced by the debut EP from HalfNoise back in 2012, thanks to both the silky smooth vocals of its leader Zac Farro, and the band’s warming yet expansive indie-rock backdrop. Fast forward a couple of years and the project is now two albums deep, the latest being the sun soaked pop of ‘Sudden Feeling’. To celebrate its release late last year, Zac has brought HalfNoise over to the UK for the first time EVER for a nice little run of live shows. Tonight is the very first one, so not only am I excited that I get to see HalfNoise after five years of waiting but I also get to see their very first show on UK soil!

The five piece casually walk on stage to a nicely full room as their leader plays around with his in-ear plugs and excitingly greets the crowd. The band bring the hits straight away, opening with the perfect sunshine pop tones of album opener ‘Know The Feeling’. Zac enthusiastically bangs his tambourine, which inspires the whole room to dance along with him. Before the song ends, he jumps onto another drum kit set up behind him and bangs away alongside his drummer, whilst the rest of the band don shakers for a super fun, samba-esque ending. This is repeated a few times throughout the set, but not over-killed, it just adds another layer to these very vibrant songs. In comparison to his earlier material, ‘Sudden Feeling’ is a very colourful, upbeat record and the set tonight leans heavy on it, bringing out big, catchy bubble-gum hooks like ‘Love You Back’ and ‘Leaving’. It’s very difficult not to get into these songs – in fact, I turn to look at my other half midway through who is usually a polite head nodder at gigs to see her in full hip-shaking mode! The power of the groove is strong tonight!

Much to my delight, the band do play a track from debut LP ‘Volcano Crowe’ and perhaps my favourite HalfNoise track, ‘Mountain’, which is a sumptuous, beat-driven indie rock tune. The track has one massive chorus, which tonight sounds particularly huge thanks to some pretty smooth harmonies added in. The band treat us to stand-alone single ‘Inside’ which is a beautiful piece of glitchy soul pop and also a brand new track called ‘French Lessons’ which continues the danceable, breezy pop groove of this recent record. We are told that the track is from a brand new EP which Zac hopes to be released later in the year.

Zac is a very charming frontman who talks to the crowd about how great it is to be the UK, becoming a vegetarian for this tour and jokes how he became a monk in order to write this new album. There are moments where his in-between patter can wear a bit thin – he does pick up on this, though, and notes that the band’s set isn’t very long so he’s trying to pad it out a bit. For the most part, he appears a very sweet and humbled guy who I think copes really well with this being the first show of the tour, especially as it features a different line-up than usual. His backing band are really tight – the bass player also played in the support band (who I sadly missed but overhead described as ‘dead good’ by a punter), and was drafted in for this tour and holds down the bottom line expertly well, rocking a sweet looking Hofner too!

So, after a rousing rendition of album title track ‘Sudden Feeling’, the band jump off stage for a moment, only to be whistled back on stage by the crowd to treat us to a nice little encore. There really isn’t a frown in the house, everyone is dancing and smiling and ultimately uplifted by these really lovely songs. Tonight’s set was just non-stop super nice pop songs that were well performed and full of grace and charm. I would advise you to go catch Halfnoise on the rest of these UK dates, and prepare to smile.

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Benjamin Forrester

I joined the Silent Radio family near the very start of my move to Manchester in 2012 and I'm still having the best time! During my stay here I've been in two noisy bands, had a not so noisy solo project, made a zine, started a blog and started a radio show. It's been productive to say the least and it's all been intersperse with a shit load of gig going and beer drinking. I would love it if you followed me on twitter @dr_brainless for excitable tweets about playing, watching and living new music.