The Xcerts kicked off their ‘Hold on to Your Heart’ album campaign with Daniel P. Carter playing ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’ twice in a row on the Radio 1 Rock Show and a packed tent singing along to it less than a week later at 2000 Trees. Headline tours, main stage festival appearances and shows with Busted, You Me at Six and a stripped-back run of dates with Biffy Clyro followed and now the trio were finishing the promo trail with a rearranged show at The Loft in Southampton.
After stellar support from Projector and Gender Roles and a killer playlist (Beach Slang! Tom Petty! Bruce Springsteen!) between each band, The Xcerts took to the stage opening with the romantic rock and roll of ‘Daydream’. It inspired the first singalong of the night and this continued at breakneck pace as the band rattled through the power pop of ‘Drive Me Wild’ (with the sax on a backing track… Where’s Will from Black Peaks when you need him? Oh, on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins) and the vital message of ‘We Are Gonna Live’. Things were slowed down with ‘Ready to Call’ from the ‘Wildheart Dreaming’ EP and a plea from Murray Macleod for everyone to dance with him as he left guitar duties to show off some sensational moves during an emotional ‘Show Me Beautiful’.
The set was mainly based around ‘Hold on to Your Heart’ but there was still space for ‘Slackerpop’ from second album ‘Scatterbrain’. Anyone who’s seen The Xcerts before will know this song gives Murray the chance to live out his stadium rock dreams and this was the case yet again tonight with shouts of ‘I’ll be your man, I’ll be your mannequin’ bellowing across the room. We’ve all been saying it for years, but now The Xcerts have played these big rooms in a supporting capacity, the logical next step is to take that top slot – and it’s going to happen.
An intimate ‘Real Love’ was dedicated to the couples in the audience – although Murray joked that it’s more like a lonely hearts club at an Xcerts show (not for me, I got together with my wife at a gig back in 2011 and we walked down the aisle to ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’ earlier this year) – before the main set closed with the title track from last year’s album and the traditional solo ‘Aberdeen 1987’.
As the band came back for an encore that started with ‘There is Only You’, Murray thanked everyone in the room for their support over the past couple of years – especially the crew who have kept it altogether in the face of the band’s triumphs, tears and tantrums. As it began to resemble ‘an Oscar speech’, this was tech Alex’s moment to shine and he took it with aplomb, taking a bow playing up to the crowd in style. The set finished with the celebratory double whammy of ‘Shaking in the Water’ and ‘Feels Like Falling in Love’ and it left you eager to hear where this most special of bands will go next…