Gig Review: Holding Absence / Void of Vision / The Escape Artist – The Welly, Hull (January 26th, 2023)

I’ll start with a small confession; I hadn’t actually heard of Holding Absence until a few weeks ago when Jack came home from work and told me a work colleagues’ band were supporting them in Hull in a few weeks’ time. After having a listen, it was clear we had been missing out, so we headed to Hull to a venue we hadn’t been to before to see them in person.

The Escape Artists (c) Jack Barker

Up first were Hulls own The Escape Artist, whose bass player Glen Allison reliably informed us that tonight’s gig had been upgraded to the main room, rather than the smaller room upstairs. If you were feeling sluggish on a Thursday night, you were instantly awoken from the first note of the bands heavy intro. Diving straight into their most popular song to date “Misery Made Its Home in Me”, the crowd that had been forming around the bar at the back of the room began to move to the front of the stage.

Lead vocalist Rob Kirk made the most of the small stage with some fierce headbanging, only narrowly avoiding other band members. Like the first track, the second song of the night was also off the band’s latest EP Pursing Love at Its Darkest and it was good to see a few of their following singing along. With only a short set the band squeezed in as many songs as possible, with only time for a quick “Thanks for coming down early to see us” from Kirk. After testing out a new track with the working title “Wowowow” the set ended with the 2018 track “Daydreaming” and chants of “More, more, more” from their fans.

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From Hull to a band from literally the other side of the world, the next band to grace the stage were Void of Vision all the way from Melbourne. First look of the band on stage and Lead singer Jack Bergin has a very unusual aesthetic that he manages to pull off effortlessly. Bergin’s energy throughout the entire set was insane and the crowd was just bouncing off him.

Void of Vision (c) Jack Barker

Pausing while the stage techs fixed a technical issue, Bergin joked about the fact they hated talking so much, but also a very thankful speech to their friends in Holding Absence for taking a chance on them and bringing them over for this tour. An announcement that they had some headline shows lined up soon in Birmingham and London saw boo’s from the crowd (about the location, not the band!) which quickly followed Bergin retracting that statement saying all future shows will exclusively be played in Hull!

With the amount of mosh pits through the entire set (the entire night is a more accurate statement) I think it was a very good thing that the venue had upgraded the room. Playing a newer track “Hell Hell Hell”, it showed their growing fan base in the audience as there were people singing along.

Before the last song, Bergin stated (sounding very British at this point) “If we have been your cuppa tea welcome to the Void family”, receiving lots of cheer from the very energetic crowd.

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To the third nationality of the night, Holding Absence, the headline act from Cardiff took the stage to an immense cheer from the crowd. Given the crowd’s reaction to the first two bands of the night, I had a feeling the room was about to get very sweety, and I was definitely not mistaken. By the third song of the night “Like a Shadow”, it was clear that we were some of the only ones in the room who haven’t been following the band for very long, as it felt like the entire crowd were singing every word to basically every song the band played. It was early in the set that lead vocalist Lucas Woodland mentioned how special Hull was to the band, however it was clear that this came from the heart rather than the normal “it’s great to be back in [insert city here]” that every band states most nights of a tour. Later in the set Woodland elaborated on this further stating that it was in Hull where they played one of their first gigs outside of Cardiff where it felt like “anyone actually gave a shit about the band” and that during the Beast From The East storm of 2018, Hull became the venue for an impromptu gig when the band were unable to travel to Scotland, with people coming out to see them with less than 24 hours’ notice.

Holding Absense (c) Jack Barker

“Gravity” and “In Circles”, two of the tracks that I have been listening to prior to the gig played back-to-back midway during the set was a personal highlight. It was during these two tracks that I moved to a different location in the venue to get a better vantage point and couldn’t help but notice a girl around round 5 or 6 years old being held in the air, with big ear defenders on signing along with the band to every word. We weren’t the only ones to notice this dedicated young fan as guitarist Scott Carey attempted to throw several guitar picks to her, and by the end of the night she had also been handed a setlist and drumstick from drummer Ashley Green.

The band were able to show their range of topics covered in songs during the next few tracks. Firstly, with “Saint Cecilia”, a love song dedicated to the patron saint of music and the love of being on the road playing live music every night. Followed by “Penance” with a depressive undertone written when the band were going through some hardships.

Leaving the stage for a short time, it was clear the evening was coming to a close, however not finished just yet. The band returned for a three-song encore of “Coffin”, “Afterlife” and “Wilt”. The second of which was an absolute favourite with the audience, Woodland taking his chance for one last chance to encourage the audience to get involved, splitting them down the middle for a left to right sing off and also asking for as many people on shoulders as possible for the final chorus.

With one last chance to thank the city of Hull for their continued support and pointing out that on this visit they have been able to upgrade from the smaller O’Riley’s venue to The Welly, the evening was over, and what a night it was. Having now witnessed a Holding Absence gig, it’s clear that with their unique sound and dedicated following these four Welsh guys are on the verge of something big. They have definitely earned their spot on the Amazon Music stage at this year’s Slam Dunk festival, and if you are heading to the festival, you should definitely go check them out.

Who knows, next time they return to Hull, they might be playing a mile down the road at the Bonus Arena.

Photos by Jack Barker Photography

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