O2 Academy Birmingham, 9 March 2022
The Backseat Lovers’ debut album When We Were Friends (2019) propelled the band from the smaller stages of Salt Lake City into touring with The Killers and selling out tours of their own. Their second record Waiting to Spill released last year, developed their previously established style while also delving into more mature themes and exploring alternative styles outside of the indie-rock genre they were known for.
Birmingham’s O2 Academy is packed to the brim for the sold-out Backseat Lovers show. Despite the treacherous conditions outside after some unexpected March snowfall, the queues to enter the venue stretch all the way down the street and round the corner. The opening act Junodream, while showing great potential for parts of their set, seem to fail to captivate the audience. The sound quality is poor at times and their musical abilities prove to be slightly inconsistent. Despite this, the music is enjoyable and the band show some promise for the future.
Guitarist Jonas Swanson opens the set with a magnificent guitar solo
As Junodream’s set comes to an end, the set is quickly changed in preparation for The Backseat Lovers. Just over 10 minutes later, the room goes dark as everyone waits in anticipation for the band’s entrance.
Joshua Harmon, Jonas Swanson, KJ Ward, and Juice Welch appear on stage and immediately play ‘Silhouette’,’ the opener to their latest record. Guitarist Jonas Swanson opens the set with a magnificent guitar solo that captivates the audience under dim lighting. ‘Silhouette’ is a brilliant choice to open the set, the soft composition continuing to build and culminating in a raucous ending with powerful guitar lines. During the build the lights become harsher and brighter to accompany the enormous sound. This combination exhilarates the audience and as the song comes to an end, the band are met with a deafening roar.
Throughout the record, there is a constant feeling of being lost yet grounded simultaneously
After this, they transition into ‘Close Your Eyes’, a song also from their latest record. This song sticks out to me in particular due to the poignancy of the lyrical content. Perhaps most touching is the line “Time keeps telling me to change, but I’m fragile and afraid”. This concept is reflected within the music and the apparent increase in desperation as the song builds. A marching beat underpins the track and the line “Oh, I’d hate to get any older,” is repeated throughout, instilling a sense of anxiety and fear that time moves fast, despite our wishes that it doesn’t.
Another highlight is ‘Growing/Dying’, a compelling and more intimate track that once again focuses on the theme of growing older. Throughout the record, there is a constant feeling of being lost yet grounded simultaneously. In ‘Growing/Dying’ this feeling is articulated through the lyrics “it would be nice to know when I’ll decide to grow”. The repeated questioning throughout the song adds to this feeling of a lack of direction, which is mirrored in the sometimes frantic energy of the music. Harmon and Swanson compare themselves to a plant, one day making progress in their growth as humans and the next failing and seeing no progress at all. This song is incredible to see live as it highlights the vocal prowess of lead singer Joshua Harmon.
Alongside many songs from their second record, The Backseat Lovers also perform several of their hits. Most notably, their performance of ‘Kilby Girl’ from their debut record is truly extraordinary. The audience sings along to every word of this emphatic indie-rock number. The addition of unreleased song ‘No Takebacks’ also proves popular.
Moving forward, it can be expected that The Backseat Lovers will continue to rise. I am hopeful that their next record will be an even greater exploration of their sound while utilising the phenomenal talent already within the band. Every member of the band is an excellent musician, and the touring experience that they are gaining will improve their stage presence and ease on stage. With this mastered, they will become a band to watch very closely as they have all the talent necessary to see huge amounts of success.