PART II – US TV DEBUT & THE TROUBADOUR
Three days after their US album release, we caught up with Circa Waves again at The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Established in 1957, The Troubadour has hosted a wealth of talent, both local and international. Elton John played his first US show there and it’s where Joni Mitchell made her Los Angeles debut.
LA singer-songwriter greats Jackson Browne, Carole King, James Taylor, and Linda Ronstadt built a fan base there. Led Zeppelin played a 3-hour jam session, Van Morrison recorded live there, Tom Waits was discovered, and John Lennon and Harry Nilsson were famously ejected from the premises for misbehavior.
The heritage of the venue was not lost on Kieran Shudall, the group’s songwriter and lead vocalist who told the crowd of his love for Laurel Canyon songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and James Taylor before exclaiming with genuine joy and sincerity, “I’m so fucking happy right now!”
Before Circa Waves took to the grand Troubadour stage, however, there was work to be done. The foursome spent the afternoon in Burbank taping their US TV debut for Conan. They performed ‘T-Shirt Weather’ to air on the show that night shortly after they were due to finish at The Troubadour. An additional song, ‘Stuck in my Teeth,’ was filmed and is available on TeamCoco.com/music.
About the TV experience, Circa Waves bassist Sam Rourke commented, “We were all well pleased with our Conan appearance. We’re big fans of his show and his work on The Simpsons.” He further revealed, “We were planning on sound-checking ‘The Monorail Song’ from one of his Simpsons episodes but wimped out in the end.”
Conan performs The Monorail Song
But the grand finale of the day was yet to come: The Troubadour. After an exuberant and enjoyable set by LA-based Bird Dog, Circa Waves’ US tour manager, Bobby Conner set up the stage with exacting care, tuning instruments and strumming a few recognizable chords from the Circa Waves repertoire. Once spare plectrums, water, towels, and refreshing beverages had been properly placed, the song ‘Take You Back’ by Frank Stallone—which sets the opening scene of the film Rocky–filled the venue and we knew the band was ready to rumble.
Circa Waves descended the stairs from the green room to the stage and, without taking pause to re-tune or speak, hit hard, launching straight into the title track from the album, ‘Young Chasers.’ Kieran’s face lit up in a grin upon observing that tonight’s crowd knew the lyrics and was eager to sing and dance along. Immediately, it became obvious that the band-audience relationship was a symbiotic one, and that each of us were going to give it all we had. Thus began the virtuous cycle of high energy on stage sparking crowd excitement, which in turn fueled an ever more generous performance from Circa Waves.
True to form, each band member displayed the energy and physicality that veteran UK fans have come to expect of a Circa Waves concert. During the first song, Sam spun around with his bass so quickly that he knocked over his mic stand. There was no harm done but I did increase my level of vigilance with respect to keeping both my head and the photographer’s lens a safe distance from flailing instruments. Perhaps easier said than done, but we didn’t mind in the least.
Frontman Kieran deftly communed and connected with the crowd, eliciting clapping, dancing, and singing like the pied piper of concert-going bliss. Joe on lead guitar drove riff after riff and contributed flawless and expressive backing vocals. Colin took to the drums like a madman, hair and sticks flying in every direction, often standing to play.
Last but not least, Sam Rourke conducted a kinetic masterclass for bass players everywhere: spinning, strutting, and scaling monitors and adjacent areas. He presented solid evidence that one need not conform to the stereotype of the laid-back bass player. At one point, the bassist discarded his shirt. The young female concert attendees in my immediate vicinity raised no objections; quite the contrary, they seemed to approve wholeheartedly. After the set, when asked to pinpoint the moment when he switched to shirtless, Sam replied, “I’m not sure. In the heat of the battle, the specifics get a bit lost. “
As is often the case with a generous and skillful set, it felt as though it drew to a close merely minutes after it had begun. The band reserved their hit single ‘T-Shirt Weather’ for last. Toward the end of the song, during the repeated chorus of “It’s gonna be OK,” Kieran decided to further deepen the connection that had been forged with the crowd by leaning back onto uplifted arms, allowing himself to be carried literally, in addition to having been buoyed by the crowd’s enthusiasm and good spirits.
Circa Waves soaked in the sustained cheers and applause before exiting the stage triumphantly, thanking and saluting the crowd. Colin displayed one final burst of energy as he toppled part of the kit, leaving behind a rock and roll reminder for those of us in attendance at The Troubadour that we had just experienced an exceptional ensemble destined to win over anyone who witnesses their stagecraft.
Relaying the band’s impressions following the show, Sam explained, “Obviously The Troubadour is a really historic venue so we wanted to make sure we added something to that long line of famous gigs there. Hopefully we did.”
Indeed, Circa Waves. You did. You most certainly did.
Circa Waves are currently on tour. Check upcoming tour dates HERE.
Thanks to LA-based music photographer Chad Elder (@lamusicphoto). Chad’s photography can be viewed at www.chadelder.com
Very special thanks to Circa Waves Kieran Shudall, Joe Falconer, Colin Jones, and Sam Rourke for two unforgettable evenings. Thanks to Matt Pilcher and Bobby Conner for their invaluable assistance in making this article possible.