Canadian quartet The Beaches brought their Blame My Ex Tour to London and delivered an electrifying, sold-out performance that showcased their extensive discography and validated the excited buzz that surrounds them.
The Beaches @ HERE at Outernet
Formed in 2013, the Toronto-based four-piece comprises lead vocalist and bassist Jordan Miller, her sister, guitarist Kylie Miller, and their closest friends, keyboardist and guitarist Leandra Earl and drummer Eliza Enman-McDaniel, who have been putting in the work for over a decade now. Their moniker is a nod to the Toronto neighbourhood on the edge of Lake Ontario where the sisters and Eliza grew up.
Opting out of a university experience to pursue careers in music, their focus and dedication bore fruit with two JUNO awards – Breakthrough Group of the Year in 2018 following the release of their debut album Late Show (2017) and Rock Album of the Year in 2022 for Sisters Not Twins (The Professional Lovers Album) which combined their two previous EPs, The Professional (2019) and Future Lovers (2021).
The alt-rockers were in London to promote their second studio album, Blame My Ex (2023), released via independent label AWAL. No strangers to the touring scene, The Beaches have opened for heavyweights including The Rolling Stones and Foo Fighters, and also left an impression at this year’s Lollapalooza festival in Chicago’s Grant Park with a dynamic set.
It was a lively crowd at London’s HERE at Outernet, the major new addition to Tottenham Court Road’s nightlife and hidden four stories under the city’s centre, where The Beaches’ glitter-grunge style and rock-infused attitude could take centre stage.
Following a set by British singer Cameron Hayes as special guest support, the backing track slowed and The Beaches slinked onto the stage. “What’s up, London!” they yelled before kicking off with Kismet, a track that describes the delicious, butterflies-in-your-tummy sensation of repeatedly bumping into a crush. Seamlessly moving into T-Shirt from Late Show, the band’s debut LP, they exuded pure sass with lyrics like “Boys don’t get me, girls wanna get with me”.
Me & Me, the third single from sophomore album Blame My Ex is a spirited, infectious track with a propulsive guitar riff and perfect for anyone discovering themselves again after a breakup. It was dedicated to all the single ladies in the crowd, who enthusiastically hollered back the words.
A tightly curated setlist featured Grow Up Tomorrow, My People (with lyrics cheekily altered from “Sold my panties to some guy in Austin” to “some guy in London”) and the lusty Cigarette with thumping drums and chords. Punky, up-tempo track Fascination exploded with fierce guitars and upbeat riffs, and a head-banging, instrumental jamming session fused into Back Of My Heart from Late Show – a raw, rock track that spits delightful, acerbic lyrics like “You’re just an insult to my eyes and ears and mouth”.
The band flaunted their signature style; catchy pop-infused alt-rock, sharp lyrics and playful, tongue-in-cheek humour. Jordan, rocking a slinky, sequinned dress with long boots and dark sunglasses, screamed, “How do you feel, London? Sexy?”, before diving into My Body, Ft Your Lips, a dark, grungy track that brought a moment of tenderness despite its evocative lyrics. It also allowed Leandra to take the mic, replacing US pop-rock band Beach Weather’s part.
With minimal chatter between songs, The Beaches allowed their music to speak volumes while maintaining an intimate connection with the crowd and exchanging cheeky banter. “How’s it going, London. Are you drinking tonight?” said Jordan before quizzing us on our ideal shower beer and what the girls should drink after the show. “Shower Snakebite it is then,” she said with a grin before introducing Shower Beer, an anthemic track with a rebellious spirit.
The soaring What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Paranoid delves into “social anxiety after a breakup”. Jordan’s raw, powerful vocals captivated the audience, their arms swaying from side to side and voices harmonising with hooky lyrics that include “Ran up my minutes on my inner voice. She loves to bring up all my issues, God, she’s the bitch” – a modern twist to the classic adage, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”.
Everything is Boring continued the theme with a playful take on a classic nursery rhyme.
Leandra took centre position to say, “London, thank you so much for coming out to the Blame My Ex tour. This song is about my ex-girlfriend,” before playing a memorable version of Edge of the Earth, which describes the experience of falling in love with another girl for the first time.
When Jordan addressed the crowd with a gutsy, “Thank you so much, London! It’s time to blame my f*cking ex!”, it was an unmistakable cue that the moment had arrived to play Blame Brett. The album’s opener has amassed an impressive over 22 million streams on Spotify to date and gone viral on TikTok. The eponymous ‘Brett’ refers to Brett Emmons of Canadian band The Glorious Sons, whom Jordan was in a relationship with, and she has said it’s “a song for all the hot messes out there.” The crowd stomped and echoed the words right back, and then the band shouted “Thank you, London!” before vanishing.
The disappointment at their departure was palpable, but they graciously returned for an encore. “We’ll see you around sometime, London!” they said cheerfully, before diving into Money, a stand-out from Last Show with its punchy chorus and biting guitars. As the track came to an end, they collapsed on the floor in a delirious heap and then in a flash they were gone. Suddenly, HERE was a much less fun place to be.
The Queens of surf-rock are doing everything their way, unapologetically, letting their talent shine through and leaving a mark. They swept the crowd along on an emotional journey, navigating the ups and downs after a breakup that concludes with self-discovery and learning to love yourself again.
The Beaches are an absolute knockout. I’ll be listening to their music (and blaming my ex) a lot more from now on.
Live review of The Beaches @ HERE at Outernet, London by Nicola Greenbrook on 23rd November 2023. Photography by Nick Allan.