In October of last year Tall Ships headlined, and sold out, London's XOYO. It was the biggest show of their career at that point, and came a week after the release of their debut album Everything Touching. Tonight's show at the capital's Scala venue is, by the band's own admission, the last UK headline show of the Everything Touching era of their career.

It's hard to measure exactly how far they've come since their debut album was released, but the most obvious sign is the swelling to a four-piece, with the addition of producer James Elliott Field, formerly of Tubelord, on keys. This change in the live setup has really let frontman Ric Phethean become exactly that, a frontman. In all previous shows he's been seen to be far too occupied and hurried on stage, handling vocal duties, looping the hell out of his guitar parts and controlling the band's many synth lines, and it could be seen to have hindered the live performance of all three.

Now though, he seems controlled, confident and elated, strutting around the stage, free of guitar and keyboard during 'Ode To Ancestors' and 'Send News'. The songs sound absolutely huge as a result, too. The songs from the LP now sound how they've always meant to live, and the older tracks from the band's two EPs have had a little boost given to them; a facelift, if you will, especially in the case of 'Ode To Ancestors' and 'Books', which are performed as re-recorded for Everything Touching.


The split in the crowd between old and new fans is strange yet healthy to see, with parts of the audience howling along to 'Plate Tectonics' and 'Chemistry', where others adore 'Phosphorescence'.

The old songs still sound brilliant though, especially when beefed up by extra keys, and it's a wonder how those two EPs (and single 'Hit The Floor') have carried the band this far, as although a heavy amount of the set is made up of tracks from Everything Touching, the encore of 'Vessels' and 'Hit The Floor' is undoubtedly the highlight of the night.

Yeah, I just said encore. All Tall Ships shows used to be, and no discredit to them, was three guys getting up on stage, playing their (wonderful) songs for however long was alloted, and then departing. It's a real show now, though. Old songs and new songs intertwining, slow songs to break things up in the middle of the set, an encore with Ric coming out alone to perform the first half of 'Vessels'.

The whole thing finally feels like it deserved to all along, and it's with this momentum that the band go to America for SXSW and shows in New York, before returning to Europe for headline shows and a summer of festivals.

Tall Ships have really thought it through on this tour, and are finally giving their songs the live show they deserve.