Gig Review: The Subways, Gaffa Tape Sandy and Catbear at the Scala, London 2/2/23

I had been looking forward to this gig for a while, after revisiting The Subways music after their single ‘Black Wax’ last year brought them back into my attention. My excitement built when I heard the latest album ‘Uncertain Joys’. I actually saw them live, or should I say attempted to see them live around twenty years ago when ‘Young for Eternity’ first came out. At the time I had booked to see them in Colchester, thinking it would be easier for me to get home from London  as I lived in Southend at the time. As it turned out, I got it really wrong and the consequence was we were able to watch the opening song, but then had to leave otherwise we would have struggled to get home! So you could say this gig has been one I’ve been waiting for, for quite some time. In the meantime, the band had released a further 3 albums, but like Electric Six, this somehow bypassed me.

I arrived in the middle of the first support act ‘Catbear’ ‘s set. At a superficial listen before the gig of the support bands, I hadn’t been too keen but I was pleasantly surprised that both acts were much more enjoyable than I expected. Catbear are a duo who play dreamy 80’s inspired indie pop. For the final song, they invited Billy from The Subways to join them on stage.

Second support act ‘Gaffa Tape Sally’ got a lot of love from the audience for their big indie rock tracks with occasional touches of country. I liked the mix of male and female vocals, giving a nice variety to their sound.

Finally it was time for the band everyone was here for, the Scala was jam packed. The band made a grand entrance, with ‘World of Imagination’  as their walk on music. The room came alight in more ways than one, as they got off to a raucous start with classic debut single ‘Oh Yeah’ and last year’s single Black Wax’, showcasing just how good their catalogue is, both old and new. I would say it’s improved, but honestly the songs from twenty years ago, still sound just as fresh and exciting today as they did then.

After so much anticipation for this gig, I was not left disappointed. The set touched on a great blend of their back catalogue and tracks from the new album. Each song was played with energy and infectious enthusiasm. Throughout shared stories of their songs, their growth as a band and themselves. It was touching when Billy spoke about how performing had helped him with his depression, and dedicated ‘With You’ to the fans. They came across down to earth and friendly. 

The Subways are a band not afraid to have fun and they certainly made sure that the fans in the audience had plenty of it. They played a fab cover of Blondie’s ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ and you could see after just how much fun they had playing it. They encouraged dancing and mosh pits (which there were plenty of). They choose not to play encores, believing they are a bit pretentious so instead let us know when it was the part that would class as an encore. This non encore  led to one of the best finishes to a gig I’ve ever seen. Of course as to be expected they ended with the much loved ‘Rock n Roll Queen’ It was a fabulous extended version which included an epic stage dive from Billy. 

I think even someone who wouldn’t know the band’s music could not help but fall in love with The Subway’s performing live as they play with such passion and vibrancy. I know I personally will definitely be catching them live as often as I can.

The Subways are now finishing up their tour in the UK but have further dates across the globe which you can find here

Follow The Subways- Official Website/ Facebook/ Instagram/ Twitter 

Article by Hayley Foster da Silva

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