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Mint Ive and Nova SaintsEdit this event
It takes more than a little convincing for me to leave a beer garden in the height of the summer’s heat so far to travel nearly a mile to a sweaty venue on the edge of Nottingham's city centre. And it takes even more convincing to stay around after postponement of the gig due to late soundchecks and an uninspiring opening set from Birmingham's The Gravity Crisis. Luckily, I am weak-willed.
As missing Barnsley four-piece Exit Calm would surely be cause for divine retribution. Guitars scrape the heavens and vocals soar much further, drifting between walls of noise and whispering ballads with ease. Many point to Verve circa A Storm In Heaven, particularly with regard to the direction of the delay-iced guitars, but here it is the four-string soliloquies of bassist Sime (pictured) that do the exploring.
There is always a clear sense of direction, and songs such as 'Higher Learning' and 'Awake' sound immensely focused, delivered with a ferocious intensity. This can be summarised as neither shoegaze nor post-rock; this is music crafted by angels with the souls of devils trying to break free of the purgatory of modern life; a scary prospect for most in the day of the wittily socially-observant rock band, but an altogether more rewarding one. Catch Exit Calm before they take off.
After such a performance the usually impressive Nova Saints can only disappoint. A muted atmosphere and so much to follow shines a bright critical spotlight on the relatively weak songwriting that forms the backbone of their atmospheric rock noodlings. The sounds they make tick the right boxes, and there is plenty of promise throughout their set, but for now that promise remains unfulfilled.
The fulfilment of promise is something Nottingham's Mint Ive are achieving gig in, gig out. Several years ago the band were so rooted in the school of lad rock that their t-shirts could well have been made by Diadora, with lettering and team numbers on the back. But slowly they have evolved into something infinitely more enticing.
Guitarist Oli's billowing riffs add substance to the band’s sound and vocalist Will has grown into one of the city’s most charismatic frontmen. Some older songs still sound rough and slightly colour-by-numbers, but the band are going the right way by building upwards from their roots.
The sun has long since faded as the gig draws to a close in the early morning hours, but another day (well, evening) in darkness ultimately proves much more rewarding than mindless sunbathing and beer-sipping.
Photograph by Chimpola
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