Gig Review: Palaye Royale / Counterfeit / Charming Liars – Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London (21st February 2020)

Palaye Royale crashed into the music scene with a sold-out UK tour in 2018. They began their careers touring in the back of their mother’s car, getting any gig they could find. And, now, they have gained a significant following who see each other as a family. Naming themselves Soldiers of the Royal Council, they combine alternative and art rock to create a unique performance experience for the viewers. The three members have onstage personalities that ramp up the theatrical side of their shows and music and creates the performances they’re known for. The Pirate (Emerson Barrett), The Vampire (Remington Leith), and The Gentleman (Sebastian Danzig).

Charming Liars (c) Abi Rose

To say that The Bastards tour has been a wild ride for Palaye Royale would be an understatement. Between shows being cancelled by promoters and impromptu acoustic sets, I felt slightly nervous that the show would fall through. Nevertheless, I made my way down to the sold-out Shepherd’s Bush Empire to watch them perform alongside Charming Liars and Counterfeit. For hours, people queued outside of the building, spending the entire day anticipating the show that was to come.

Charming Liars were the first band to take the stage. Unfortunately, I missed some of their set due to delays on the Central Line, but I’m happy to say I got there for the majority of it. I would’ve hated to miss it, especially since after seeing them perform live I’ve become a fan of their music. Each member gives an energetic and emotive performance, and the vocalist is incredibly charismatic. Referring to the crowd as “beautiful people”, he truly brings the audience in. The music itself is a series of powerful drumbeats creating an underlining bass with catchy guitar riffs that cut through the deep tones of the bass and drums. The vocalist’s voice is powerful, and he interacts with the crowd in a way that breaks the wall between artist and audience (a theme that is common throughout the night). Their penultimate song, “Soul, showed this clearly, as he said “I don’t want to just be four guys on stage,” and asked the audience to bring out their phone torches. Charming Liars opened the night perfectly, simultaneously preparing the audience for what is to come, while leaving their mark.

Counterfeit (c) Abi Rose

When the second support band, Counterfeit, came on, I have to say I was excited. Full disclosure, I have been a fan of Counterfeit for years, so being able to photograph them and write this review is surreal to me. The concert was important for the band, as one of the guitarists was celebrating his birthday. And, what better way is there to celebrate than playing to a sold-out venue in London? Before they even began playing, people were screaming “Happy Birthday” to him from the crowd.

The vocalist, Jamie Campbell Bower, is energetic; entirely consumed by the music he plays, and he is open with the audience about his music and where it comes from. “I know what it’s like to be a guy and be vulnerable,” he told the audience, as he opened up about his five-year battle in recovery from addictions to drugs and alcohol. His incredibly moving speech about his journey was followed by music that runs on strong riffs and chords. The majority of their songs fit into the punk genre, with their fast-paced drums and energising riffs/chord, although they do sometimes slow it down. During their penultimate song, “11:44”, Bower went into the crowd, standing within the audience as he sang the emotional lyrics. The song came with a moving sentiment of rejecting fear and rejecting systems that are designed to make you afraid, all so you can live a peaceful and good life. Counterfeit ended their set with their most recent single named “It Gets Better” – a song that the audience threw themselves into.

Palaye Royale (c) Abi Rose

Before Palaye Royale took the stage, the speakers began to play “Blood” by My Chemical Romance. To anyone else, it would just be another song played while they set up the stage. However, long-term fans knew that this was a sign that they were about to take the stage. From the second the band took to the stage; they whipped the audience into an instant frenzy with their high energy and infectious enthusiasm. Opening with “F-king With My Head”, the vocalist jumped from podium to podium, and not a single member stopped moving. Sebastian Danzig leapt onto the stand at the front of the stage, playing the catchy riffs to an eager crowd with his usual flare, his skill visible from wherever you are in the venue. On the raised area towards the back of the stage, Emerson Barrett (the drummer) delivered an onslaught of heavy drumbeats that ran continuously through each song. The sharp riffs and thundering drums created a mesmerising sound, especially when paired with Remington Leith’s powerful vocals.

While the majority of their music features an upbeat sound, they occasionally slow it down. During “Ma Cherie”, Leith went into the crowd. He asked the audience to make room, before walking into the centre and sitting down with some of the fans as they sang the song together. Throughout the entire show, the band was constantly looking out for their fans and making sure they were safe. Leith stopped the show twice to direct security, one of those times being “Ma Cherie”, to people they thought looked like they were faint or hurt. They even handed out their own water when security couldn’t get it to people. However, this didn’t stop the energy of the performance, nor did it stop Leith from scaling the walls.

Palaye Royale (c) Abi Rose

During the encore, which featured their hit songs “Mr. Doctor Man” and “Get Higher”, Leith climbed up onto the speakers which lined the far-left wall. He moved along them, before getting to the circle seats, where he hung upside down off of the railings by his ankles. Security were poised either side of him, ready to grab him if he lost his strength, but he pulled himself back up effortlessly each time.

The show was a mixture of emotions: anger, pain, sadness, and the feeling that you’re involved in something bigger than a band’s fanbase. After the show, Barrett and Danzig went outside to meet as many fans as possible and I heard several people tell them how grateful they are to be a part of the group, and how accepted they feel by the family that their music has created. Each of the brothers have mentioned feeling very alone in their teenage years as they struggle with mental illness, but now there’s a sense of community amongst them. When the crowd sang along to “Dying In A Hot Tub” (a song about drug abuse), Leith noted “I’m not crying, you are,” as his voice wavered slightly with oncoming tears. This was their biggest ever headline show, and I think it’s safe to say it was a hit.

Pics by Abi Rose Photography

Palaye Royale: official | facebook | twitter | instagram

Counterfeit: officialfacebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

Charming Liars: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

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