Don Broco joined one of the most exclusive societies in music this week (March 21) as they took to the stage with a full orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall . This is why it was as much a celebration of the band's journey as it was of rock music as a whole.
Photos: Tom Pullen
The Royal Albert Hall has seen some things in its time. From the day it opened in 1871, it has welcomed some of the most iconic and celebrated names from all different walks of life and art to share their gifts on one of the most beautiful stages. The golden walkways have seen kings and queens travel up and down them, enjoying evenings of opera, theatre and music of the highest calibre. It is a room steeped in history, walls carved out of 150 years of culture that will continue to do the same for 150 years more. It is a rite of passage and a life-defining moment to be able to share what you have created in a space such as this, and tonight that privilege belongs to Don Broco.
Which makes it all the more powerful when Rob Damiani barks, “Eight Days a week sucker, eight days a week”, and the floor of this prestigious building turns into utter carnage.
It’s been a frantic build-up to for Broco since the announcement that they would be playing one of the country’s most loved venues with a full orchestra in support of the Teenage Cancer Trust, kicking off their annual week of massive gigs to raise money for one of the most incredible causes. They are now part of a very exclusive club, joining the likes of Bring Me The Horizon and Metallica in having their music transformed into something as grand as this. Yet it took some of the finest composers in history years to perfect their masterpieces, but the Charity Symphony Orchestra that accompanies the Broco boys tonight only had a matter of weeks to figure out how to add colour to the band’s back catalogue. And the band are the first to admit that before tonight they only had proper practice to get in the flow of the occasion.
But from immense pressure comes the most stunning diamonds, and as the orchestra swells as the band takes to the stage and belts straight into a sun-stained ‘Come Out To LA’, laced with Hollywood-ready swells of strings, you can tell that everything about tonight will be just perfect.
What stands out the most about the stunning arrangements that complement and heighten tonight’s setlist is just how much fun you can see everybody is having with it. The mariachi trumpet break that sits on the bridge of ‘Pretty’, signalling that chaos is just around the corner. The dramatic sweeps and towering bellows that coat the funky riffs of ‘Everybody’. The blossoming loveliness used to back up and bring to life the surprise appearance of 'Automatic' favourite ‘Further’. The way that the ensemble help to build new layers of tension, like on the multi-faceted ‘Swimwear Season’ or the heartbreaking ‘Easter Sunday’, and deliver sensational ground-shaking bedlam, like on the euphoric ‘Technology’. Such a wide array of instruments and talents enhance the rich and raucous variety of songwriting Don Broco have in their arsenal, adding screaming colour and effortless drama to the lively and joyful performance they are pulling off in front of them. It truly is harmony in motion.
And joy is the perfect way to define it. No matter what corner of this awe-inspiring room you are watching from, be it the floor or the posh boxes, you can see the smiles plastered across the band’s faces. The excitement to hear their work heightened beyond their imaginations. Flabbergasted that these songs they wrote were bouncing off such beautiful walls. Delighted that all those in front of them are having as much of a party as they are. From the spine-tingling ‘Nerve’, given the cinematic ambience that it has always deserved to the pummelling and passionate ‘Uber’, its message ringing more loudly than ever before, and not forgetting the simply sensational ‘One True Prince’, a track that the band thought would be their only chance to add classical elements to when played at Abbey Road Studios last year. All of these moments are now cemented as core memories for all four of the lads.
And as ‘T-shirt Song’ brings things to a perfect crescendo, the scale of the evening really starts to sink in. What has made tonight so incredibly special is that in another time, the possibility of an event like this even taking place would feel near impossible. This venue was never designed to play host to such mayhem, have circle pits engulfing its floor, and have hundreds of people swinging their t-shirts around their heads in pure ecstasy. But the fact of the matter is that it has, and that is fucking incredible. For a band that started their career making its way up and down the motorways of England and playing in the backrooms of any pubs that would have them, tonight is a testament to what knuckling down and working hard can give you. It’s a sign to never give up on your dreams, no matter how farfetched and unattainable they may seem right now. It's a reminder to appreciate the people who have been there with you every step of the way, cemented in the band asking Deaf Havana to support them tonight. And most importantly, it's an order to keep on believing in your passions, and never let anyone tell you that something is impossible.
Because one day, you may find yourself standing where Don Broco are tonight. Dancing like nobody is watching and baring your souls on the grandest stage of all. It really can happen.
You can donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust right HERE