When The Pigeon Detectives took over The Sugarmill

Bethan Shuff || March 15th

In celebration of their new album, Broken Glances, The Pigeon Detectives returned to The Sugarmill for another round of madness. The album has only been out two weeks, but has had brilliant feedback according to the band. I caught up with Ryan, Oliver and David before the gig to chat about the tour.

Broken Glances is the fifth release from the band, and is a progressive step away from their late 2000s work, guitarist Ryan Wilson pitched why you should buy this album with ‘It’s an album that we wanted to make without any preconceptions of the band. If you like The Pigeon Detectives then it’s a great album to buy for the diversity of it.’ The album is more experimental and mature, evident in the fact that Enemy Lines, from the latest album, is worlds apart from Take Her Back and I’m Not Sorry, but there’s still the charm of The Pigeon Detectives in each track.

The Sugarmill was the eighth pit stop on their jam-packed thirteen date tour, and had taken only one day off. Their Instagram post the previous night had mentioned that they were going to ‘have a night off the booze’, which didn’t go to plan, but David Best (bassist) said that the band have ‘become immune to the powers of alcohol, so we don’t get hangovers… but the shows have been so good that that’s the energy that gets you through.’

‘The tour is the best thing about being in a band’ guitarist, Oliver Main said, ‘touring is never bad, even half sold out gigs – the hour and fifteen minutes you’re on stage. The rest of touring is boring but the hour and fifteen minutes on stage makes up for it.’ With regards to the best part of a live show, there isn’t one; just the fact that not two gigs are the same ‘and that’s the magic of live music.’

I dread to think what goes on in most tour buses, however when asked what the funniest thing that’s happened in their tour bus, The Pigeon Detectives answer is simply: their drummer, Jimmi. ‘When he’s drunk he’s really quite comedic; he’s like a big drunk dummy. You can just mess with him. His eyes go but he’s a really pleasant drunk. The amount of times we’ve been sat in the back of the tour bus and his eyes, ones pointing one way and one’s pointing the other way and he just makes noises and makes us laugh. Jimmi is the funniest thing to happen to us on the tour bus.’

After this tour, the boys are going to wind down and recover for about three weeks before jumping straight back into a busy schedule of festivals like Live at Leeds and some unannounced fests too, and in Autumn there is talks of a 10 Year Anniversary tour for Wait For Me, The Pigeon Detectives first album.

First to step onto the stage of The Sugarmill was The Tiny Minds, opening the bill with a persona that was far from what their name would suggest. I like to watch bands that make you ask questions to yourself, this time my question was ‘why is the frontman (Duncan Foster) wearing a winter hat alongside a summer vest and sunglasses?’ but it was funky and got him noticed, so it worked. The band looked and sounded as though they had just stepped off the Madchester scene, despite being from Hebden Bridge. Their confidence and attitude kicked off what was already looking to be a great night as more and more people arrived.

Franklin, a four-piece from St Albans, were the touring support for The Pigeon Detectives, accompanying the band on 10 of their 13 dates. A punchy and powerful set with some incredibly intricate guitar licks executed by guitarist Brandon Hargrave, considering the fact he’d broken his index finger and couldn’t use it, they were still mastered. Causes was a firm favourite from the set with its building verse and pre-chorus into a spiralling and electric chorus. The band geared everyone up for the headliners between tracks asking if we were ready for The Pigeon Detectives; everyone screamed yes, but they didn’t know what they were letting themselves into and they certainly weren’t ready for what was next.

The Pigeon Detectives kicked off their set with Enemy Lines, and there was a huge buzz from the get-go. As Matt sung Over the top and to enemy lines he comically walked along the balance beam that was the raised front of the stage. Matt is a very agile beast considering he’s literally bouncing from one side of the stage to the next, diving between bits of gear and dancing around; he always lands on his feet – a bit like a cat. This Is An Emergency took us on a nostalgic trip to 2008 and the crowd was mental, and Matt getting more and more energetic as the set went on. How someone has that much energy to jump around and perform as he does for an hour and fifteen minutes is extraordinary. Classic indie anthems like I Found Out , Animal and Keep On Your Dress got everyone singing and dancing, and the new tracks like Lose Control and A Little Bit Alone were laced in between, and whilst very different to the older tracks, they fit in perfectly.

Matt’s energy only got more intense with time, swinging his microphone around and catching it mid-flow to carry on singing the lyrics that everybody knew – however at one point he did nearly take one of the bouncers out with one of the many mics that inevitably broke. By mid-set, everyone was drenched in either sweat, alcohol or the water that was being thrown to and on the crowd. ‘You look like you’re gasping for a drink of water mate’ Matt says as he looks up at the balcony, ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ he laughed as he launched an open bottle of water into the air to be caught above by a thirsty fan.

As Jimmi, Oliver, Ryan and David played the tunes of our childhoods, Matt shoved his mic into his pocket and lunged over the stage and towards the crowd that caught him as he got involved with them, taking people’s phones a filming himself singing and showing them all some love. He made his entry back onto the stage in the form of a fall, styled into a roly-poly, and surprisingly landed back on his feet again. He spoke to the crowd and told us of how Stoke is always the highlight of the tour and told us of the anniversary gigs they’ll be doing later in the year.

During one of the tracks, Jimmi managed to break his pedal, and Matt joked that he does this every 12 or 13 gigs ‘when he doesn’t feel like he’s getting enough attention’, he joked as the roadie resolved the problem before going straight back into a stellar set. They finished the set with Take Her Back, a well-loved track that everyone knows despite whether or not you actually know the band. The band left the stage briefly before coming back on to talk about the pretence of an encore because ‘we know that you know that we know that we’re coming back on’, finishing the show with I’m Not Gonna Take This and I’m Not Sorry.

The Pigeon Detectives performed one of the most insane, lively shows The Sugarmill has seen, and exhilaration filled the room in an adrenaline haze as mind-boggled fans left the venue utterly speechless.