HEADLINE shows across the country and now here in Southampton see The Sherlocks return to the big stages for first time in two years.

The Yorkshire band hasn’t been idle since their last time at the Engine Rooms, with new guitarist Alex Procter and new bassist Trent Jackson joining frontman Kiaran Crook and his brother and drummer Brandon.

Now here was a first chance in the south to hear their new top 10 album, World I Understand, and to get some clues on what is next for the four-piece, who say they are already working on their next record. New songs hold their own alongside proven favourites. The ominously urgent single Falling, with its infectious chorus and instrumental interlude, kicks things off, while grunge-themed Plastic Heart sounds as good live as when it was recorded in the studio with legendary Manic's producer Dave Eringa.

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Catchy number Wake Up, a story of deciding to go out for just one drink, but then inevitably staying out for more, resonates knowingly with fans and shows how songwriter Kiaran Crook can breathe new life into age-old quandaries.

A part acoustic, part full-band version of Games You Play, with its stirring chorus, is a revelation, while City Lights and dance-orientated Sorry, suggest comparisons with the stadium sounds of The Killers and another new direction for the band.

With a 15 song setlist, there is still room for singles Live for the Moment, Will You Be There?, NYC (Sing It Loud) and Magic Man from the band’s first two albums and they are as popular as ever, inspiring devotion and producing more madness down the front.

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Kiaran revealed new music is coming, but even in the future, it is hard to imagine a song other than Chasing Shadows finishing The Sherlocks’ set, just as it did seven years ago at their first gig in the south at The Joiners.

Now firmly embedded together after completing studio time, festivals and an independent venue tour together, this four-piece showed in Southampton a new energy and why they are still one of the most exciting acts in Britain.

The Sherlocks will soon play alongside Kaiser Chiefs in the country’s biggest arenas, including Bournemouth BIC on 17 November, but here was proof already of a band revived, recharged and rearmed with a set of songs that deserve further attention.

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Earlier, fresh from supporting The Sherlocks in London, rising stars Crystal Tides marked the release of their brand-new EP Side Effect and single Sorry by drawing a big early crowd and showing why they are the most exciting new band on the south coast. They play a headline date at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea on Friday 17 June and Victorious Festival in August.

Opening act Andrew Cushin wowed fans with a solo acoustic performance, including songs from his debut EP You Don’t Belong. The Newcastle singer is a real talent and will support Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher before his own autumn tour, which includes The Joiners in Southampton on Sunday 9 October.

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