Live Review: Don Broco return for exhilarating hometown show at Bedford Esquires
After headlining multiple nights at some of the country’s most acclaimed venues as part of your latest jaunt around the country, where do you go?
For Don Broco, the answer was simple. Home. Back to Esquires, the venue where it started for the band and, in the words of frontman Rob Damiani, back to “the best venue in the entire world”.
Don Broco released their fourth album Amazing Things in October and in recent weeks have played capacity gigs at the likes of Glasgow’s Barrowlands, Manchester’s Academy and Nottingham’s Rock City.
Their homecoming at Bedford on Wednesday followed two nights at the O2 Academy Brixton in London where they played to 10,000 people.
The 200+ fans lucky enough to secure a ticket to see them up-close and personal at Esquires enjoyed a show maybe even better than any on their UK tour – and certainly the only one with a mid-set marriage proposal! (more on that later).
Don Broco originally announced this gig in partnership with Bedford Esquires while the venue was closed due to coronavirus restrictions on indoor live performances.
Money raised through ticket sales would help Esquires pay its bills while it was unable to open.
While the intended original date came and went, when venues re-opened and musicians were able to tour again, Don Broco decided a home-town gig would be the perfect way to end their tour.
Joining Don Broco was Kid Brunswick who put in a solid support slot, whipping up the Bedford crowd with his modern take on punk and alt rock, infused with rap influences.
Opening with new track Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan, Don Broco’s 16-song set mirrored that of the larger gigs they’d played in recent weeks - a good chunk of new material from Amazing Things and some of their best-known hits from past albums.
In Damiani, Don Broco have a commanding and captivating frontman.
Someone at ease belting out both rock vocals or killer pop hooks to the band’s signature sound which melds elements of alt-rock, post-hardcore and at times funk.
Not to be outdone by a frontman currently with a haircut rapidly resembling that of Brian May, guitarist Simon Delaney still managed to stride around the Bedford stage in shorts with one leg, more often than not, above head hight while playing huge riffs.
Don Broco’s latest album has a heavier feel compared to its predecessor, leaving the likes of past single Automatic (which was sandwiched between Gumshield and Uber) feeling comparatively pop.
But in many ways, the ability to blend the best assets of genres has always been one of the keys to Don Broco’s Success.
The energy levels throughout their Esquires set were off the scale.
Fans, still in awe of seeing the band in such an intimate venue and a band, clearly enjoying every minute of it.
Damiani took time between songs to reminisce about past gigs in the town, former band names and to admit “we couldn’t have asked for a better last show of the tour – back where it all started”.
Then, in what might be a first for Esquires, an on-stage proposal.
Two fans appeared on-stage – one looking initially a little confused as to why Don Broco had paused proceedings and why he’d been led out in front of everyone.
However, seconds later came the realisation his partner was on one knee.
After a ‘yes’, an embrace and a huge cheer, Don Broco powered through the rest of their set, with all of Esquires singing ‘Yippee Ki Yay’ (and the rest of the expletive laden hook) along to Bruce Willis.
After which, Damiani explained there was no point leaving the stage only to briefly loiter in sight in the corner before returning for an encore, so the band continued with Everybody and T-Shirt Song - the latter resulting in clothing being swirled in circles around heads.
Before their finale, Damiani said: “If you’re from here, keep supporting Bedford Esquires, it’s the best venue in the entire world.”
You’d struggle to find anyone inside on Wednesday night willing to disagree.
Don Broco played:
Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan
Come Out to LA
Action - with Kid Brunswick
One True Prince
You Wanna Know