“Together We Are Stronger” : Solid words to live by and a true expression of positivity that you do not have to face the trials of this hideous world alone. This mantra lies at the heart of the eponymous debut album for London punk rock band Counterfeit, who have been bathing in the ecstasy of this debut release and an equally successful European tour over the past month. Back on home soil, the first stop of their UK tour was in Leeds, in the depths of The Key Club.
In the inky black room, the air reeked of adolescence as the masses clambered excitedly around the stage, the sound of muted squeals escaping their lips. First up to the stage were Southampton Dirt-Pop quartet Faux, with huge melodies and even bigger choruses, they certainly opened up the show with gusto. Following soon after were rock outfit Tigress, with vocalist Katy Jackson stealing the show with nothing more than a phenomenal set of pipes and a tambourine.
Not leaving the crowd waiting in anticipation a minute longer than they had to, Counterfeit stomped on stage with a punk swagger that radiated: “Do not mess with us“, complete with ripped jeans and stitched jacket patches. And with that very thought in mind, they blasted quickly into proceedings with album opener ‘Washed Out’.
Throwing all rulebooks out of the window and having seemingly no respect for health and safety guidelines, Counterfeit’s sense of danger blazed into the room like an earthy fire as violent circle pits and moshing were thoroughly encouraged. This is the punk life; this is rock n roll. And not one to miss out on the action, vocalist Jamie Campbell Bower took every opportunity to be out in the crowd, getting involved in the ensuing carnage, much to their delight.
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Ploughing through the lightning riffs and pounding punky classics ‘Addiction‘ and ‘As Yet Untitled’ exploded the room into a sweaty, sexy riot. As ‘Romeo’ drew to a close, Bower instructed the crowd to part, as he took his guitar and microphone into the center of the floor.
With a passion that bordered on the side of aggression, Bower told the noticeably excited crowd to “shut the fuck up” as he introduced ‘Letters to the Lost’, a song written to tribute to his friend Ivan who tragically took his own life. As the parted crowd listened intently to his words, Bower explained the shocking statistics of depression and suicide: it is the single biggest killer of young men under 45. The importance in his words were staggering and filled with genuine sincerity as he urged the crowd to never feel as if they have to be alone, to seek help if they need to, pointing in particular to the charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Bower’s gravelly voice cut deep into the souls of everyone around him, who stood in awe as he belted out the heartfelt words that lie within ‘Letters to the Lost‘. As the last note was strummed, the echo hung in the air as time seemingly stood still. It felt like the world stopped turning just for a moment, to let those words to sink in.
Clambering back onstage, Counterfeit raged back into regular scheduled rocking with ‘For the Thrill of it‘ and ‘Close to Your Chest’. Bower tapped into his rebellious side during ‘Come Get Some’ as he climbed upon a shelf just wide enough to rest your pint on. Airing every track from their debut LP was phenomenal to hear, as the raw power of punk doesn’t quite do this band justice when listened through mere headphones. These songs deserve more respect and a colossal amplifier.
Almost predictably, the crowd parted once more for explosive anthem ‘Enough’. Dragging his microphone into the crowd, Bower himself initiated the anarchy, launching himself into unsuspecting fans. The favour was returned almost immediately, because let’s face it, when else are you going to get the chance to engage in mosh pit madness with your favourite singer? Not to be deterred by a simple elbow in the ribcage, Bower screamed every word in the faces of those who adore him most, and they did so in return. If you weren’t covered in a thin layer of sweat by the time the song ended, you weren’t rocking hard enough. The only mystery was if it was your own, or Bower’s.
At this point, the atmosphere in the crowd was a crazy mix of exhilarated, adrenaline filled relaxation, the barrier between band member and fan had been obliterated. If Counterfeit continue to immerse themselves with people in this deep and personal manner, then it is clear that they will go far in the music world, with firm fans for life.