Venue: London HMV Forum Support Bands: IO Echo, Two Wounded Birds, Violens Date: 24/11/10 The Drums were described as “The best British band from America” previously this year, and they’ve definitely made an impression on the British audience, evident from the immense queue of excited teenagers waiting outside the HMV Forum, hours early, in the freezing cold. Unusually, The Drums chose to have three support acts, which meant that the wait in between acts was minimal. First up was IO Echo, an East Coast noisy-pop duo who The Drums met on tour. I’m not sure if it was the dodgy sound drowning out lead singer Ioanna’s voice, or the excess amounts of smoke meaning virtually nothing on stage was visible, but the set didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the crowd. Two Wounded Birds followed, a band signed to The Drums guitarist Jacob Graham’s record label, Holiday Friends. Two Wounded Birds are one of the best support acts I’ve ever seen; their music is a kind of dreamy 60s surf-pop, but their sound is thicker and heavier, and separates them from other surf-pop bands such as Wavves and Girls. They played an impressive set, the standout track being 'Keep Dreaming Baby', the title song of their first EP, which sold quite a few copies shortly after their set finished. The third and final support act were Violens, a three-piece New York synth-rock band. Again, the sound wasn’t working in their favour, and I found it difficult to hear the singer’s voice above the guitars, which is a shame because I really enjoyed their debut album, Amoral. Finally, two hours and forty minutes after doors opened, The Drums came on stage. Opening with 'Best Friend' seemed a weird choice, but it instantly picked-up the wilting crowd and got them dancing, with even a makeshift mosh-pit forming in the centre of the crowd. The Drums are far more energetic live than on record, and Johnny and Jacob’s infamous dancing and theatrics on stage really have to be seen to be believed. There wasn’t a lot of between song chit-chat from the band, but lead singer Jonny seemed genuinely humbled by the enthusiastic crowd and repeatedly thanked the audience. Despite scrapping it from their set at UK festivals earlier in the year, and noting their disdain for being labelled a surf-band as a result of the commercial success of the song, the band opted to play 'Let’s Go Surfing'. On record, the song is undeniably beach-pop, but live it’s something entirely different. Jonny Pierce’s vocals are more urgent, the percussion is far heavier, and the track feels less clean-cut and perfected, which makes for an incredibly lively crowd and one of the highlights of the night. After a strong set, performing almost all tracks from the debut album, as well as some fan-favourites from early EP Summertime!, the band return for a three-song encore, starting off with 'Baby That’s Not The Point', a B-Side that’s new to the set. It’s a slow song, entirely different to the rest of their set, and the crowd are almost still to listen. As well as making catchy and infectious pop songs, The Drums are also able to produce stunningly simple yet beautiful slower songs, which is where Jonny’s voice is strongest. 'Skippin’ Town' is the penultimate track, and despite being an album-track, the lyrics are shouted back, word-perfect, by the audience. Again it’s visible that the band weren’t necessarily expecting such a strong response, as they seem genuinely surprised and thankful to the crowd. The set finishes with 'Down by the Water'. Having seen this performed live in June, and falling entirely in love with the song, I had high expectations again. The song is the closest The Drums come to a ballad, but it maintains The Drums sound with the repetitive guitar riff and the heavy percussion throughout. It’s amazing live, Jonny sings with genuine emotion and the crowd stand still to really listen, and the echo of the audience singing the words back is almost a distraction. Towards the end of the song, the percussion seems to entirely take over, and the song builds to a deafening, crashing finish as Jonny throws down the microphone, bows, and leaves the stage. An incredibly dramatic finale to an incredible set from one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.