Palaye Royale // Charming Liars // Counterfeit // Live Review // SWX // Bristol

On a regular Monday night in Bristol, you’d think it would be pretty quiet.  It’s the start of the week and everyone has that Monday feeling going back to work as the cogs of reality start to turn.

But in the centre of Bristol on this damp, dark and bitter night, a large queue full of youthful faces with brightly coloured hair, piercings and opaque make up lined the streets outside SWX – one of Bristol’s top music spots.

Palaye Royale was tonight’s attraction and this was to be their last show from their UK leg of ‘The Bastards Tour’, after a rather controversial show in Glasgow which led to the band no longer being able to perform in any of the O2 venues after being labelled ‘a risk to audience safety’.  Now, these guys are known to get ‘artistically free’ when letting loose on stage and until now, there have not been any issues.  Some might say they love the fact that the band host a particularly raucous show – fans would take any risk to watch their favourite band perform even if there was a risk of getting slightly injured, wouldn’t they?  Well, there were plenty of them in the queue that looked more than willing to take that gamble.

Regrettably, the band have had to ‘tone’ down their performance from now on.  There’s no doubt that this would in any way affect tonight’s show though.

Supporting the Canadian-rockers were LA-based alternative band Charming Liars with Kiliyan Maguire on vocals, Karnig Manoukian on guitar and Mike Kruger on bass and will continue supporting Palaye Royale on their European tour until the end of March.Looking suave and sophisticated in his embroidered black jacket, it took three songs to pass before Maguire introduced the band and spoke about how excited they were to be supporting tonight.  And just as this happened, Palaye Royale vocalist Remington Leith appeared on the venue balcony sending fans into an utter frenzy as everyone’s heads turned in unison to see.With a short set to cover, Maguire grabbed the crowd’s attention by stating that tonight was only going to happen once and it should be a night to remember. ‘Soul’ was their penultimate track and what better way to involve the crowd by asking them to sing the chorus and stick their phones in the air with their torches on.  And the crowd did just that – swaying side to side as Maguire mirrored their movements, the track ended with a powerful drum solo that had him pummelling his fist to the last few beats.Charming Liars finished their set with ‘Like a Drug’, another cracking track that brought Maguire to his knees grasping his mic stand, asking fans to come and meet them at their merch stand. This charismatic gent with his Disney Prince looks and attire was sure to get the young hot-blooded females racing over to grant his wish.  An incredible start to the night and an impressive set that had the crowd buzzing for more.

After a quick interval whilst the stage was set up for the next support band, the crowd were enlightened with a variety of tunes over the PA and in particular, a tune by Fall Out Boy had everyone singing at the top of their voices.

Next up were Counterfeit, an English punk-rock band from London that has only been on the music scene since their formation in 2015.  But don’t let that fool you – this 5 piece has got a seriously fierce presence with vocalist Jamie Campbell-Bower assertively brandishing the stage from the start with his guitar. Delivering a much darker twist to punk-rock, Counterfeit gave the crowd a taste of their more experimental side to music and it went down a treat – especially as a young band playing to a young audience – they speak the same kinda lingo.The band packed in an impressive setlist in a short amount of time including their recently released single ‘The New Insane’ which had the crowd jumping as Campbell-Bower got up close and personal with the front row.  There were no holds barred as he spoke to the crowd about his history as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict which introduced one of their next tracks ‘It Gets Better’ – a track with style not too dissimilar to that of The Streets.Unfortunately, this was to be Counterfeit’s last night supporting Palaye Royale but it most certainly won’t be the last time we hear from them.  Unique, honest with a lot more to give, this is a band to watch out for in the UK.

The last break of the night before the main act graced the stage and there wasn’t a lot of movement from the front of the crowd as avid fans stuck to their spot to maintain the clearest and nearest possible view of Palaye Royale.  There was a lot of tinkering out in the wings that rustled the feathers of nearby fans, grinning ear to ear as they cast their eagle eyes over some of the band members getting ready to go on stage – their faces oozing with elation. To ramp up the anticipation, a handful of more ‘classic’ 70’s rock tunes were played to the crowd before they spotted several members of the band up on the balcony with family, making a sharp exit.  The anticipation in the crowd was now at its peak as the lights went out and the band made their entrance on to the stage launching straight into their set creating an explosive chemical reaction.

The brothers were dressed to impress with vocalist Remington Leith sporting tight black punk-style trousers and a menacing red and black striped top.  And of course, makeup – and lashings of it. Sebastian Danzig, guitarist and the eldest of the three at 27 years old looked particularly dashing dressed in black whilst playing one of his many Gretsch guitars.  This ‘lefty’ playing guru has a collection of these beasts that are durably suitable to a rock star lifestyle on tour.  And there’s no getting away from their vintage sound – a perfect match for the bands glamorous and theatrical apparel. The first track from their setlist was ‘F**King With My Head’, one of the first from their latest trilogy released in 2019 to mark a ‘new era’ for the band and undoubtedly a positive way to start their performance.  ‘Hang on To Yourself’, another release from this trilogy also found a place on the list with a fusion of tracks from their two studio albums ‘Boom, Boom, Boom (side A) and Boom, Boom, Boom (side B).  Whatever was played, the band sent the crowd into a complete frenzied state with arms in the air and the floor being pounded again and again.

Their sound on stage was immense and even a few technical ‘glitches’ during a track didn’t hinder the band in any way.  Every track was played with passion, colour, artistic charisma and most of all, flawlessly.  With all three brothers still remaining in their 20’s, they had quite a hold over their fans and it was easy to see why.  Young, vibrant and authentic musicians with a never-ending stack of energy – what female fans wouldn’t approve? From more upbeat tracks such as ‘Don’t Feel Quite Right’ and ‘Massacre, The New American Dream’, taken from their ‘Side A’ album, ‘Ma Cherie’ is a favourite with fans in which Leith asks fans to hold up their mobiles with the torch on and sway in the air as he momentarily vacates the stage to join them in circular pit to sing.  Brothers Sebastian Danzig and Emerson Barrett remain firmly footed on stage playing the guitar and tambourine as they watch their middle sibling lap up all the glory.  And of course, security was in full view of the performance to ensure there were no repercussions.

Last track on the setlist and also from their ‘Side A’ album was ‘How Do You Do’ which had the entire venue on their feet dancing as Danzig pulled off one of his mega guitar solos.  A silhouette of ‘horns’ appeared across the room backlit by the words ‘The Bastards’ which were lit up in big letters on stage. Total class right there. A bit of a breather now for the band as they briefly made their way off of the stage to grab a drink and catch their breath.  Soon after the chants of ‘two more songs’ from the crowd, Leith was back on stage with the rest of the band exposing a very toned ‘top half’ for those who wanted to have a quick glimpse at his tattoos (forcibly of course).  And just to get the crowd a little more excited, they were also treated to a bit of a hose down with some refreshments.  ‘Mr Doctor Man’ and ‘Get Higher’ were the final tracks on the set and over in a flash.  Once the band thanked the crowd, it took no time for the roadies to get on the stage and peel every last setlist off of the floor to bequeath the grabbing hands of devoted fans who waited eagerly by the stage barriers – not to mention a copious number of plectrums that followed. The crowd dispersed to hit the merch stand to grab some last-minute memorabilia whilst others finished their drinks in the hope that the band may make a final appearance.

Palaye Royale totally owned that stage tonight with their frivolous antics, eccentric hair-dos and dramatic ‘in yer face’ costumes.  Noel Fielding, eat your heart out.

Palaye Royale continues ‘The Bastards Tour’ throughout Europe before heading back to the USA late May 2020.


Review & Photography: Emma Painter // Pacific Curd Photography


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