It’s been quite the ride for the as yet unsigned London-based Luna Bay, their following growing month on month as they’ve taken their indie sound on the road this year along with American band The Aces, reaching across the UK and into Ireland with stops at Glasgow’s famous King Tuts, Dublin’s The Soundhouse and London’s Dingwalls venue in Camden. And so Luna Bay round out a massive year with a sold out show at the former Barfly space, re-Christened the Camden Assembly, mere days after Matty Healy’s The 1975 road-tested their third record on the same stage.
Appearing on stage accompanied by The Kinks’ All Day And All Of The Night, the London four-piece get into position to a rapturous applause and chants of “Luna Bay” from their burgeoning fanbase. Diving straight into sun-soaked mover Silence, the crowd already bouncing along before frontman Connor O’Mara slips in “London how’ve you been, alright?” to get them moving more – the stage bouncing so hard that ill-placed drinks bounce straight off.
Berlin is next continuing the energy, O’Mara’s honey-slick vocals layered upon by the voices of guitarist Rye Milligan and bassist Sammy Penniston, the latter’s Rickenbacker bass guitar throwing out immense vibrations.
“This next song’s an old one, it’s the first song we ever released” introduces O’Mara to cheers from the 400-strong crowd as the group slide into firm favourite Colours, Milligan playing his guitar high while finding space on the small stage to bound about with relentless energy before requesting the Assembly crowd to “sit on each other’s laps”, the crowd obliging obediently and getting close to the club floor before bouncing back as the song crescendos.
Thanks go out to the band’s crew as drummer Alex Ross hammers out a stomping beat that turns into considered song Hiding. “We love you Rye” chant members of the audience which make the guitarist blush “My grandma and auntie are in the crowd tonight” he continues as O’Mara chimes in with “my mum’s there as well”, the hometown show giving the band the opportunity to play to friends and family as well as their massive London fan base.
“This is a brand new one” says O’Mara as the group launch into Call The Night, the tempo kept high encouraging the already sweaty crowd to bounce even harder, and as the song draws to a close Penniston suggests “who reckons Connor O’Mara should do his first crowd surf tonight?” to which the frontman responds “I’ve just seen my mum’s face”, the crowd bursting with laughter.
“This next one’s a bit of a slow one, it’s called Miracles” says Milligan, as haunting guitar chords from O’Mara pair with a chilling lead part ahead of vocal harmonies that make the Camden crowd stop and take a breath, that are reminiscent of the effect slow cuts from the likes of Foals can have mixed in amongst bouncy rockers.
Speaking of tonight’s show: “it sold out so quickly, this is nuts, thank you all so much” says O’Mara. “We’ve been looking forward to playing London for ages, this is our hometown so this one’s called Hometown” he continues, introducing the single. The crowd are immediately singing along, O’Mara giving up vocal duties to the Camden audience for a time as he smiles on.
Rock anthem-esque tune Fire is next up, it’s soaring highs and blistering bass still allowing plenty of room for O’Mara’s vocals to breathe before single Smoke And Mirrors closes out the main set, the crowd just in front of the frontman descending into an impromptu mosh pit but a polite “sorry” still whispered into my ear as I’m pushed forward by the surge. And as the boys descend the stage grinning, we know it will only be moments before they return for one final number as chants of “one more song” fill the room, tonight by way of single Little Amsterdam, O’Mara encouraging a call and response with the crowd for the upbeat tune even before it kicks off.
The night is over in a flash, but the memories and songs vivid, proving the London quartet really do have what it takes to reach far beyond tonight’s fantastic show. And in fact they’re already doing it, having announced a show at London’s Omeara venue on 11th March 2019.
Live review and photos of Luna Bay @ Camden Assembly by Kalpesh Patel on 11th December 2018.