Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors, Live at the Borderline, London, 25 August 2017

Words & Pictures: Adrian Hextall \ MindHex Media 

Having been introduced to the excellent Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors when the band supported Ginger Wildheart in 2016, the resultant album ‘The Devil’s In The Detail’, has been on pretty much repeat play since its release. On the back of the album release and the tour supporting Ginger, Ryan, Rob Lane and Mickey Richards have been promising to return with a full headlining tour and finally, those dates have arrived. 

The London show marks the end of a very successful tour. Positive reviews from other dates up and down the U.K. suggest it’s been as enjoyable as it has successful and, with the final gig at the newly refurbished Borderline in London, this is the only one remaining to make it a Royal Flush!

Joining the band in London are Jasper In The Company of Others and main tour support Fort Hope. 

Jasper In The Company of Others

Worcester based band JITCOO clear had one intention as the opening act. Warm up the crowd and enjoy it at the same time. Their short sparky performance fulfilled both objectives and then some. 

From the off it was clear that the band knew they had a chance to make a great start to the evening and boy did they deliver. Whilst Jasper Malone, on acoustic guitar and lead vocals steers the ship, it’s down to Jak Hayward, the most metal Ukulele player I’ve ever seen, to add the extra zest that takes the show to the next level.

For a band I’ve never heard of before the show, it took less than a couple of songs to convert me to a fan. Energised folk / pop songs that knew how to get a crowd bouncing. It would also mean that Fort Hope would have to go some to maintain the tempo.

Fort Hope

Fort Hope are a band that bring contrast to a night where acoustic guitars play  large part in the show. Both Jasper and Ryan Hamilton employ the acoustics, heck, Jasper In The Company of Others even throw in the ukulele to prove their folk credentials. Fort Hope however have brought a heavier show with them. Initially looking like it might be a case of style of substance, lead singer Jon Gaskin seemed like he’s been practising all of the rock star moves in the book and the sheer contrast to the previous band who just ‘got on with it’ left me feeling slightly nervous that Fort Hope would fall foul of the 1 band good, 1 band bad, 1 band good rules that often impact a multi band bill.

Thankfully by around the 4th song, everything just clicked into place. Gaskin settled into performer mode and the opportunity to listen to his voice really lift the songs really made a huge difference. Watching him perform, it’s clear that he lives and breathes very lyric in the band’s repertoire and he has emotion and conviction etched all over his face. Ably supported by the rest of the band, Fort Hope may be heavy but they carry soul and a lot of it.

The best way to describe the sounds of Fort Hope; Dynamic emo and post-hardcore-influenced rock. They appear very tight and for a band formed only a few years ago, display a maturity and stage presence that belies their short time as a band. Comparisons to alt-pop/rock acts such as Don Broco, Young Guns, and Deaf Havana are well founded and their first major-label debut album ‘Flood Flowers, Vol. 1′  is now out. 

Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors

Excited much?? Yes!!…. appears to have been the general reaction from all assembled for the final night of the tour. What should have / could have been another quality rock show in a London venue (which would have been more than enough) soon morphed into a gathering of friends and family.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the reasons that Ryan Hamilton wanted to play the Borderline was to prove to himself that he could sell enough tickets for a show of that size. Having tried back in 2012 to do the same with People on Vacation (feat: Bowling for Soup’s Jaret Reddick) the show was ultimately cancelled so there will have been more than a sense of satisfaction that the gig with The Traitors in 2017 went down without a hitch and will definitely be seen as a tour highlight.

The typical end of tour off the cuff remarks and knowledge that everything the band have tried and tested over the course of the dates has worked out well. That includes the addition of album producer Dave Draper on lead guitar and also Carol Hodge on keyboards and vocals. Whilst the band works well as a three piece, live the extra flexibility afforded to Ryan having Dave on guitar and the depth of sound Carol adds both with the keys and the vocals makes a world of difference. 

The Borderline has not only improved the lighting but the sound as well and the five-piece sound amazing. Take the well known single ‘We Should Have Never Moved to L.A.’ with its infectious and ‘knowing’ lyrical content in the chorus. Every word, every note, everything is crystal clear and gives the song a life of its own for three (way too short) minutes.

Ryan’s appreciation at how everything has worked out garners a cheer of appreciation for all concerned and a special mention for Mr Draper who, for the rest of the evening is peppered with “Fuck You Dave!” chants from the crowd. Not because of anything bad but because of everything good. And being in the U.K. the best way to compliment a friend or family member is to insult them. Best friends that meet for the first time in years will often say “alrite dickhead” as an opening line before laughing, hugging and carrying on like normal. This is Britain and this is how we do it. “Fuck You Dave!, we love you”. 

Heavy Heart’  and ‘Scottish Mud’ draw huge cheers from the crowd and for those that have been there for some of the afternoon and all of the evening, the copious amounts of beer consumed help the vocal performance of the crowd and ‘Heavy Heart’ is given a unique backing vocal that (cough) works very well!

Latest single ‘Smarter’  gets a look in towards the end of the set before Ryan rightly points out that walking off to come back on again for an encore is pointless so they stay put and perform on of the well known songs from his time with Smile Smile, ‘Truth On Tape’. 

This truly was how a tour should end. A community gathering, a great reception and songs that will hopefully see the band performing them in venues like the Royal Albert Hall before too long! Come back soon!

SETLIST:

Drugs
Records
Medicine
Strength In Numbers
Should Have Never Moved to L.A.
Be Kind
Karaoke
Heavy Heart
Scottish Mud
Freak Flag
Smarter
Ode

Truth On Tape
4 Letter Verb

Tell Us How You Feel

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