Circa w/ support from Fly + Thrive Live Review – Dorchester Corn Exchange (Friday 9th April 2004)
A spacious hall, with an elevated stage; add a room full of curious rock fans, some oblivious to how this headlining band will sound, and you have the perfect setting for Circa’s performance. The lights dimmed as Circa walked the steps onto the stage. With an unusual, but original way to introduce themselves, they disguised themselves in the black atmosphere, whilst music sounding like it belonged on a soundtrack, played in the background. Suddenly it became apparent that Circa would provide the crowd with what they’d been waiting for. Screeching of the lead vocalist Chandra Nair’s guitar filled the room, as he moved his guitar to the amplifier gaining feedback. The lights turned on, and the electricity immediately resonated from the front to back of the hall, as Circa were in full flow with their first song “You”. This catchy first piece was a great introduction to the band, and certainly left you wanting more. Clever video footage of a man wearing a hooded top walking around late at night, added professionalism and extra creativity to the performance. After claps and cheering, Circa exploded into their second song of the night – “Alive!” and the title is self-explanatory. The crowd was alive, the music was alive, and so was Chandra, who left the guitar playing in the hands of the talented Alister Barker (lead guitarist), in favour of taking the microphone off his stand and pacing the stage. This stimulating song, generated energy, and I certainly felt tired watching carefree Chandra running around the stage with a look of raging fire in his eyes, as he gave his all to the vocals. He ran, he jumped, and really let the audience get to know him, as he feared not banging his head across the stage, pointing with looks of confidence.
It was like Circa on crack! James on Bass was pounding his bass strings, as I found it hard to catch sight of his fingers moving so quickly! Another James, this times on drums, slightly hidden behind his drum kit, was far from forgotten as he smashed his arms down creating the blasting effect of Circa on fire! After everyone had taken a breath, Circa moved on to their next song, titled “Move On”! This slower love song calmed the reverberating sound of “Alive!” which still played in everyone’s ears. Neat clean vocals from Chandra, and smooth walking of the stage by Alister, who could have been playing with his eyes closed, gave the crowd the impression that Circa were a band that really knew what they were doing. After more applause Circa quickly moved onto their next piece, “over to you”, a very powerful song, with great lyrics, ‘look at me see me now, I can’t bare this feeling you must know – it’s no one’s fault but it’s over to you.’ There was a really prominent buzz in this song, and Chandra sang with passion, accompanied by his ‘rock star’ dyed pink Mohawk, and dark eyeliner wearing a sleeveless Circa Jacket. This was the song that this band really committed themselves to.
They most certainly looked the part. “Just a Little” was the next tune blasting into the crowd’s ears, with more stage antics from Chandra, and crazy drumming by James. This song gave a huge presence and it was hard not to notice nodding heads and having a great time with their beer bottles. “How Does it Feel?” was played next, with dim lights adding a gloomy atmosphere, as Alister put down his guitar to show off his multi-talented skills on the keyboard. James on bass had a few respites to have another swig of his beer. Circa really knew that they were rocking! The crowd did too, as there were screams for the good-looking lead singer, Chandra, and girls making reference to ‘loving his hair’. Definitely the part, and definitely a band to attract an audience.
Out came the acoustic guitar for the slow song that every set list needs, but a few technical faults meant that Chandra had to resort back to his snazzy red electric guitar, with a slight smirk on his face, for “So Soon Still”. This mushy song left couples swaying from side to side, and deep concentration from the crowd. Again, Chandra gave his all, especially when the climax of the song caused him to break out into this angelic falsetto. Alister had a rest, and James on drums, took to the keyboard this time, to accompany the bass and guitar. After slowing the pace, it wasn’t long before things hyped up again, when the next two songs, “You Got It” and “So Close” were played. Chandra wearing a black shirt with ‘may contain violence’ on the back, ran across to the other side of the stage and jumped on top of one of the amps. He took great delight on jumping off the stage; posing at the video camera recording Circa, and jumping back on stage to finish the song. Meanwhile, Alister was playing a crazy riff, up and down the frets, and the two James’ were breaking a sweat. The energy created by the last two songs, built up the suspense for the finale – Hate Box, the single to be released. It most certainly did not disappoint! This song was fabulous! A perfect finish to an amazing gig!
As tired as the band most probably were, they had saved their last ounce of energy for this truly motivating track. All four guys brought charisma, depth, fun, and real music into this song, not forgetting Chandra’s trademark hand actions, and sprint into the crowd which left him flat out on his back! Hate Box summed Circa up in one. The style of the song was very individual, also the most catchy and incorporated the rock/pop/indie style that Circa has a firm hold on. The gig couldn’t have finished better. I was as pumped up by watching Circa, as they were playing on amplifiers, jumping, and trying to climb the heights of the hall! A thoroughly brilliant gig that gave even more than it promised. Performed by an incredibly talented band, that deserves much bigger venues than a reasonable sized hall. With every inch the image, sound vocals, impressive playing, and the inclination to make the crowd ‘mosh’, they’ve got what the music industry needs.
I look forward to hearing them play again, and this time in a much bigger venue!