February 23, 2011, London, England – Dark, damp and sweaty, the CAMP (the City Arts and Music Project) was the ideal space for Montreal-based Suuns’ London premiere. The space was initially set up as a temporary arts locale, but has blossomed into one of London’s best-kept concert secrets. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the band who are currently touring to support their debut album Zeroes QC that was very much adored by the British press. While I find the album completely engrossing, I wasn’t sure how it would come across in live form, with its somewhat genre blending and restrained mix of prog and electronica with a few classic rock riffs thrown in.
The band essentially blazed through their material offering little in the way of in-between song banter. These guys can engage a crowd just by doing what they do best: playing a tight, forceful and penetrating set. Songs like ‘Armed for Peace’ and ‘Gaze’, generally the more guitar-based offerings, led way to the more beat-oriented songs like ‘Arena’, which definitely took on a more dance feel than on the album. Some of the typically calm London crowd even managed to bust a few moves. The band fed off of the crowd and vice versa, and as the venue got hotter, they play even harder.
Lead singer Ben Shemie is an interesting character to watch onstage. He appears almost in physical pain as he sings, which certainly adds to the overall mood of the gig. Drummer Liam O’Neill is spectacular to watch, especially on some of the more post-punk songs such as ‘Marauder’. Overall, this show really defined for me how a band, a physical space, and an entirely engaged audience come together to create an overall atmosphere. This is a mature young band that take their craft seriously. An intense and worthwhile experience, it will be interesting to see what they come up with next.