Live Review: British India play to their strengths at huge Sydney show at The Metro Theatre

British India returned to The Metro with songs from their latest album Forgetting the Future and two support acts, Deadlove and Planet, in tow.

First support act Deadlove were loud and energetic, their set could be heard from the bar at The Metro. Playing to a small crowd that gradually grew throughout the set, the band put on a good show and got those there early enough to see them ready for the night ahead. Four piece Planet were next, and their pleasant, easy to enjoy tunes tided us. They didn’t have a lot of crowd involvement, only to say the obligatory “Thanks for coming out” and thanking British India for taking them on tour. The band didn’t interact with each other on stage a lot, but this is a quality that will likely come with time and experience.

The pre-set music put everyone in the mood, and inspired mass singalongs to “I Wanna Know What Love Is” by Foreigner, “Pony” – the Ginuwine one, not the Kasey Chambers one – and Placebo‘s “Pure Morning.” After kissing his, who I assume to be, girlfriend Declan Melia walked on stage with the rest of the band. They’ve added a fifth member to the live shows for this tour, who provided back up vocals and keys. The band jumped right into “This Dance is Loaded” and from the get go, were ready to fucking rock.

I have seen British India many times, and have been disappointed by them at The Metro before. This is never their fault, more the fault of a bad cable or mix, and while they always continue through such hardships it can be disappointing to see a great live band struggle with a dodgy set up. Their set wasn’t marred by any noticeable problems until the encore – when Melia’s guitar seemed to cut out during “Summer Forgive Me” and the microphone wasn’t loud enough for “Black and White Radio” – but by then they’d already delivered a full set of awesome. They played tracks from all of their albums – as Melia put it, “Some old songs, some in the middle songs and some new songs,” an explanation Paul McCartney apparently stole from them in his Melbourne show this week. As he put it “We might have been influenced by The Beatles, but Paul might have been influenced by us.”

The new songs from their most recent, epic album Forgetting the Future sounded as good as I hoped they would live. “Midnight Homies (My Best Friends)” was an early standout, but “Precious”, “Just Sing Like Everybody Else” and “My Love” were huge crowd pleasers. The latter had the whole crowd screaming “My love, breaking and entering!” over the band during the chorus.

The tracks from Controller – “Plastic Souvenirs”, “I Can Make You Love Me”, and “Summer Forgive Me” sounded tight, while older tracks from debut album Guillotine “Run the Red Light” and “Black and White Radio” haven’t lost any of their energy.

The crowd loved every song they played, from all six of their albums including “Vanilla” from Avalanche, and “I Said I’m Sorry” from Thieves, but there was a special energy for “Suddenly” and “Wrong Direction” from Nothing Touches Me.

The band fed off the crowd’s energy throughout the show. Melia jumped around the stage while he wasn’t playing guitar, and barely seemed to stand still at all. All members were smiling while they watched the crowd dancing and singing, girls up on people’s shoulders, and even at a rogue crowd-surfer at the end of the set when he tried to get onto the stage before he was carried out by security.

Melia pointed out that they have been playing The Metro for the last ten or so years, and that we only have to commit $30 a year to see them play and keep them going.

Don’t worry, British India, I’m sure for as long as you continue to play as well as you did on Saturday, people will be happy to pay to see you do it.

The reviewer attended this show on December 9th.

Photo by Luke Henery.