The British pop-rock crossover genre is slowly becoming less known amongst the modern scene. Shows are getting smaller, as are audiences. Yet even the snow and cold can’t keep some fans from rushing to see their favourite bands, such as Milestones playing Birmingham’s The Asylum 2.
Known relatively well in the Birmingham pop-punk scene, local rockers You Know The Drill were billed as the starters for the night. Be it the misery of the weather or the lack of an audience, they started with a slightly lacklustre performance. Yet, from midway of their second track, the true pop-punk energised style of the collective we know was unleashed. Of course, with one EP and another due to come, the performance of unreleased track ‘No Ambition’ held up well both on stage and through those listening. You Know The Drill played a good lengthy support set and even though they did miss out their much loved Taylor Swift cover, still gave a fun and lively performance.
Better Days were up next, bursting through with tracks from their previous release. While it took a while for fans to get into the music, lead vocalist/guitarist Graeme Costello managed to forward a spark to the audience with their plethora of enjoyable tracks. Stage presence also kicked up well, despite a few almost disastrous collisions amongst members! Following a few issues of a lost bass, the band didn’t actually have too many issues performance wise. Filling the accidental tuning issues with improvised stage banter, the set did appear a little unplanned, however, this didn’t set the 4-piece back, if anything, highlighted their ability to add a few lighthearted touches to their set. These days, Pop-punk is often referred to as a ‘dying genre’, but Better Days helped prove there is still a collective presence out there.
Midway through their headliner, Milestones left no room for errors. Yes, they may not be the most well known band in the scene, but with such lively, excellent performances, they’re on the way for certain. Opening with ‘This Is My Life’, the band managed to kick off the show with a slower track, rather unusual but working in their favour. Milestones definitely bring back a reminiscence of the early eras of British rock bands You Me At Six and Mallory Knox. Yet through their early 2006 pop-rock style track ‘Bittersweetheart’, their dedicated ecstatic performance came through strongly. In some respects, it’s understandable that the band had more fire and vibrancy during their newer tracks. Nevertheless, older fan favourites such as ‘Call Me Disaster’ still emerged through the set and weren’t tossed aside, still keeping up a strong energy. Even the slowest of tracks ‘Shot In The Dark’ still has an unmistakable charm about it, being stripped back but still having a slower, well reformed energy.
‘Red Lights’ isn’t just an album of fast paced pop-rock angst, but also features heartfelt ballads that come through just as strongly live as they do on recording. Emotion throughout the setlist was never diminished, not once. Stripped back melodies of ‘Hold On’ sent waves through the room, whereas even the slowed down beginning of single ‘Paranoid’ added a different interpretation to the albums tracks. More importantly, the emotional connection, especially between vocalist Matt Clarke and the audience was recognised. Between songs, there was a slightly awkward atmosphere, but this was quickly made up for between songs with everyone getting deep into the music of each track and the band jumping endlessly around the stage and onto the barriers.
Of course, with any crowd in Birmingham, one ending track is never quite enough. Finishing with their hopeful ballad ‘Against The World’ saw a collection of fans come together in a lovely singalong. Yet, despite ending on a beautiful track, in hindsight, Milestones probably knew a demand for an encore was coming. Unexpected and unplanned, demands from the audience led the band to perform an old rendition of ‘Hindsight’, not quite as polished as the other tracks, but in their defence it wasn’t planned. If anything, it formed quite an entertaining performance that didn’t quite go horribly wrong, but certainly was a fun finale either way.
Milestones know how to perform and connect with their audiences. Between songs, they do lack a little but this is easily made up with their connectivity with the audience throughout their tracks. Definitely go catch Milestones at a show near you, you’ll thank us later.
Gig rating: 4/5