They were my band of 2021. Now, they’re four individuals who used to make music together. The members of The Ninth Wave are pursuing their own personal passion projects and it’s a fairly bitter pill for long-standing fans to swallow.
At SWG3, which became appropriately packed, you could see a sliding scale of facial expressions around the room. Some people had come for one final party, others looked a bit sad. I was probably the latter — no amount of vodka-lemonades could stop that sobering feeling before the band came on. It was like attending the funeral of a person, with them, before they’d even passed.
Their indefinite hiatus was announced a short while ago and it was designed to coincide with the release of their latest album, ‘Heavy Like a Headache’. Of course, given the immense positive reactions they’ve received from all the new music they’ve put out, part of me is entirely certain that they’ll return. But you just never really know. That was why not making the gig wasn’t an option.
Support from the rising stars Brontës and Man of Moon set the tempo nicely, though you often get a mixed bag of genres on the billing before The Ninth Wave themselves assume the stage. Intense lighting created drama and added a palpable intensity to the place, before the band came on and there was this huge uproar. There was dancing, lung-busting singing along, and the sort of moshing you’d get at a sweaty rock show at The Key Club (in Leeds). As I said, the mood was varied, but everyone was completely present.
Naturally, they played new favourites, including ‘Heron on the Water’, ‘Some’ and ‘What Makes You a Man’, though the wild screaming for tracks such as ‘Piece and Pound Coins’ and ‘Maybe You Didn’t Know’ proved how successful their album build-up campaign has been. But for the OGs in the crowd, they wheeled out treasures like ‘Come Down Forever’ and all the big ones from 2019’s ‘Infancy’ — AKA the album that gripped me most. ‘Half Pure’ and ‘Sometimes the Silence is Sweeter’ just can’t be beaten.
After an hour’s worth of material, they took a short, suspense-hiking break before an encore. And then, as though it had all gone by in the blink of an eye, that one TNW hook stopped us all still. The synths of ‘This Broken Design’ are iconic. All at once, did I want to cry? Absolutely. Did I gulp it back? Yes. Somehow.
While I’d argue, despite the connotations and the inevitable end that it spelled, their final ever show wasn’t quite as intimate as the Òran Mór gig back in October. If you were there for both, you might understand why — I think it was the blend of being seated and all the backing instruments that just peppered the experience with something seriously special.
That said, SWG3 gave the outfit some send-off. Does their disbanding make their music more ephemeral? No. So, why does it feel as though it’s all suddenly going to disappear? That perhaps can’t be answered. But I already feel better that Haydn’s shared some solo career updates to his mailing list subscribers, so that’s something.
They dropped the mic, now I guess we watch this space…