Gig Review: Florence Black / Less Than Hollow – The Patriot, Crumlin (3rd June 2023)

Less Than Hollow (c) Paul Hutchings

In October 2022 I wrote a live review of Florence Black’s headline show at The Exchange in Bristol. My notes included the comment that this was likely to have been the last time that they would be seen in venues so small. Well, it turns out I wasn’t quite right. But these were pretty special circumstances. Two shows announced at a venue that has seen Florence Black blossom over the past decade for the launch of the band’s single, “Start Again”. The first sold out in less than four hours, prompting all involved to quickly shoehorn another date in the following night. This one sold out just as quick. Such is the fervour that this trio encourage.

It’s a gloriously sunny Saturday evening in this inauspicious but hugely welcoming venue in the heart of the Gwent valley. The Florence Black shirts are everywhere, as fans arrive early to get their special place on the barrier, chat with friends, and of course, have an early evening drink or two. There’s a buzz of anticipation that doesn’t happen very often. Florence Black is well loved in this part of Wales, a mere stone’s throw from their hometown of Merthyr Tydfil.

The band have invited Less Than Hollow along for the two shows as support. The Kent three-piece are tight on space, crammed at the front of the stage due to their own drum kit, but determined to grasp their opportunity. From what I understand the band have only been together for a couple of years, although there is a wealth of experience within their ranks. With only a few singles released, there isn’t a lot of music for people to swot up on in advance, but they create a decent impression with a solid performance, especially with a crowd who were only here for one band.

Less Than Hollow (c) Paul Hutchings

Less Than Hollow’s style combines a contemporary style of classic and alternative rock. They use big riffs, clean vocals, and a powerful rhythm section to propel them forward. Opening with one of those singles, the riff heavy “Karma”, it was evident that they were grabbing the opportunity. Their songs possess hooks that bury deep, blending with lush melodies. Led by former Colt48 member Adam Jerome, who plays guitar and takes vocals responsibility, the only real blot on their set was the brave introduction of an acoustic number which killed the momentum the band had built with their heavier, powerful songs. A brave move, drummer and bassist leave the stage to Jerome who is clearly nervous and articulates this (on both nights). He comes through the song with aplomb, nerves settled, and then invites his band mates back to ramp up the tempo again. An 11-song set list is generous but the band are through them in under 40minutes. It’s a high-octane performance, which is matched and probably bettered on the following night. Less Than Hollow earn a decent round of applause at the end of their set. For their first ever shows in Wales, they’ve done alright, as we say round these parts.

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Florence Black can do back-to-back shows with ease. The night before they were headlining Love Rocks Festival in Dorset, and a quick glance at their tour list shows a hectic summer of festival and big support slots ahead of them. The trio, Tristan Thomas, Jordan Evans, and Perry Davies, appear impervious to the demands ahead of them. They swagger onto a heroic welcome, the venue 100% partisan in their favour. They may have the crowd eating out of their hands, but Florence Black don’t give anything less than full effort, despite clearly being a little knackered due to a bit of sunstroke and travel demands.

Florence Black (c) Paul Hutchings

They start with “Bird on a Chain” which gets the place moving and introduce new single “Start Again” early. It’s a ripper of as song, and one which has already got into the heads of their ardent supporters. There’s more room on stage now, with Jordan swinging his bass about with abandon. Tristan is a little more static on account of his dual role, but he has opportunity to slow things down on the emotional “Grove Street” one of many to feature from the excellent Weight of the World release. When he lets rip though, he’s a heaving mass of emotion, shredding with surprising ease.  He possesses every guitar hero shape in the book, and uses each of them through the set. Meanwhile, behind the kit, Perry, despite his sunburn, is carving out the best impression of animal from The Muppets.

It’s a powerful set. Inevitably it’s Weight of the World that carries the bulk of the set with over half the album featured. By the time the band kick into the raucous “Zulu” and their now mandatory cover of Budgie’s “Breadfan”, sporadic pockets of pogoing, moshing, and general exuberance has broken out. This is a band who bring everything live, including the riffs and the heavy. It’s “Sun & Moon” that closes the set, allowing a brief breather before the song finishes with the up-tempo panache that these three have crafted with graft and effort.

The following evening sees the band mix up the running order. Clearly rested, their set is even more dynamic and explosive, with a fresh surge of energy pulsing through the trio. It’s going to be a huge year for Florence Black, and it’ll be interesting to see how they progress.

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Photos by Paul Hutchings

Florence Black: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

Less Than Hollow: facebook | spotify

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