by Craig Wright
As my esteemed colleague Jamie Harris wrote in the most recent issue of Brig, there are certain songs that are associated with your university career, for a multitude of reasons.
In my case, arguably the foremost example of this is Walk the Moon’s biggest single to date, the immediately identifiable ‘Shut Up and Dance’. It’s become associated with much more than simply being a great song due to its copious use as an instrumental in Air3 Radio’s sports coverage, its upbeat guitar riff and fast-paced nature making it a natural go-to for your everyday student commentator.
However, save for a few further numbers from their back catalogue, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the final night of the men from Ohio’s Press Restart tour. I’d heard from a few people that they were a great live act, but that was about it.
Those people could not have been more on the money if they’d tried.
Before we dive into everything Walk the Moon related, though, a word for the support act, Flor. A band about whom I had absolutely no prior knowledge, the four-piece outfit from Oregon were an extremely pleasant surprise in their 35 minute set. From the same record label as, amongst others, Paramore, the heavy use of drums and catchy riffs made sure that they made a significant impression. The enthusiasm of frontman Zach Grace was more than enough to counteract the fact that it was occasionally difficult to make out the lyrics, and they’re a band to keep an eye on in the next couple of years.
On to the main attraction, then: emerging to the unmistakable sounds of The Lion King, there was no hanging around from Walk the Moon, as they launched straight into the tour’s titular track to a rousing reception from the Glasgow crowd. Within the opening few numbers, one thing became incredibly obvious: whilst Chris Martin remains top of the ‘energetic frontmen’ rankings, Nicholas Petricca came as close to anyone I have ever seen to deposing the Coldplay singer from his pedestal. There was one point in the set where I genuinely wondered if someone was employed by the band to wind him up before every gig, such was the amount of dancing, bouncing, running and smiling.
It all made for a thoroughly enjoyable atmosphere in the O2, a fact heightened by the liberal use of pandering to the crowd from the band. A crowd that was already responding to an impressive performance became a crowd that were lapping up everything thrown their way. An expert lesson in how to treat your adoring fans.
However, all the pandering in the world can’t cover for lack of talent – a problem that, unquestionably, Walk the Moon do not have. Sean Waugaman’s drumming laid a solid foundation throughout, backed up by the bass of Kevin Ray and the guitar skills of Eli Maiman. Throw in Petricca’s vocal range – and boy, does he have a range – and you’ve got a definite winning formula.
There were undoubtedly some major highlights from the show, most notably the gusto with which the crowd joined Petricca in the rendition of ‘One Foot’, the lead single of the band’s latest album, and ‘Anna Sun’, which closed not only the gig but the overall tour. ‘Different Colours’ was also received with aplomb, whilst an acoustic version of ‘Aquaman’ brought a more mellow, yet nonetheless breath-taking, note to proceedings. It also brought one of the more comedic moments of the night, as the band’s dedication of the song to a couple in the crowd was greeted with cheers of approval – except from the couple themselves, who remained totally oblivious.
Yet the biggest reception of the night was, perhaps unsurprisingly, reserved for ‘Shut Up and Dance’. As soon as the opening notes were heard, the venue erupted in a sort of euphoria, with everyone from die-hard fans complete with face paint and tour t-shirts to complete novices that can only name a handful of the band’s songs grinning and singing along with enthusiasm.
Whilst Glasgow may have brought the curtain down on this particular tour, you can guarantee that Walk the Moon will return. The only questions are when and where; one wonders if they may be asked to grace the likes of TRNSMT in future years, such was their popularity in the city.
For now though, the band can claim some well-earned R&R, with the Press Restart tour concluded, and bask in the knowledge of a job very well done indeed…