Monday, October 10, 2022

Sorry unveil their new album and mesmerise the audience at Rough Trade Bristol

Autumn 2022 has been a busy season for Sorry. 

The London outfit has remained steadily defiant of genre constraint as they experimented even further with unusual sounds and innovative structures, while also never losing their trademark feeling of intimacy in music, in the string of singles they released as a first peek into their upcoming second album, ‘Anywhere But Here’. 

Now the album has landed and revealed itself to be everything that was promised, and more: a collection of intense tracks which lays bare the very heart of the band, with Sorry’s trademark sharp lyrics, somewhat more of an electronic edge, pockets of almost-shoegaze self-reflectiveness and a more refined version of the intensity which had characterised the band’s debut, ‘925’, in 2020. To celebrate the new release, Sorry have embarked on a tour touching a number of cities in the UK, often offering more intimate gigs in smaller, more private spaces – a type of setting that suits the intimate nature of their sound particularly well.

As they have grown in sound, Sorry have also grown in stage presence. There has always been a charisma to their live appearances, but that has been refined and distilled to a point that it now truly shines, especially in spaces such as the live room at Rough Trade in Bristol, where the stripped-bare setting and the relatively small area enable a direct, genuine connection between the performer and the audience. There has also always been something vaguely retro about both the band and their music – from the jazzy influences originally heard in ‘925’ to the verbal flourishes of their carefully crafted lyrics – and that also was reflected in this live appearance as Sorry came on stage in sharp suits, evoking an atmosphere somewhat akin to a classic cabaret club, or perhaps an old-style jazz bar in Soho. The audience caught on the connection practically immediately; clearly a good blend of old fans and intrigued newcomers, they clearly proved that no mosh pit is required for everyone to still clearly feel the intensity in the room, and there was a distinct magnetic attraction felt in the air as everyone swayed and danced to the masterful lead of the band, singing along to the most beloved tracks in the setlist and rapidly growing enamoured with the new one. The lack of a support act was not felt as a disadvantage; in a way it gave Sorry an opportunity to dive right in and do what they do best – deliver a live show that is not a simple gig but the crafting of a connection.

A very cleverly engineered setlist helped, too. Plenty of room was made to showcase the material from the new album, with recent singles like ‘Key To The City’, ‘Closer’, or ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’ being given pride of place, but the setlist was also injected with old favourites which gave the audience a chance to join in with lyrics they knew well and which clearly resonated with them. One of the sultriest, most high-impact staples of the Sorry catalogue, ‘Starstruck’, got an airing, as did ‘Snakes’, a personal favourite which never fails to exemplify that intimate mood that truly is the band’s trademark, and the more recent ‘Cigarette Packet’, a frantic, almost breathless ride of a song that is almost reminiscent of the most recent output by alternative punk bands like Plague Vendor and is a perfect representation of the versatility of sound Sorry are capable of delivering. There was an adrenaline rush in joining the chorus of voices of the audience in the cavalcade of lyrics to the most intense track in the setlist, definitely an outstanding moment to the evening.

Sorry can rely on extremely high levels of chemistry both between themselves – the smoothly executed blend of vocals between Asha Lorenz and Louis O’Bryen is a reflection of the effectiveness of their partnership in all other fields, both in the crafting of the music and in the stage delivery of it – and with their audience, from which they hide nothing: an earnestness which can be daunting at first, but proves ultimately enrapturing. There is something reminiscent of the early days of Marianne Faithfull in the type of mood they capture and the way they present it, and something more broadly connected to the quieter corners of classic rock in the mid- to late-70s – but with a strongly contemporary sound and an equally contemporary tongue-in-cheek attitude. The Rough Trade show, which was followed by a record signing that proved how the band’s charme does not exhaust itself on stage, was an early night that seemed to last much longer than it did, a snapshot of feeling remarkably in its sincerity, and further evidence, if any was needed, that Sorry are one of the most unique and brilliant voices in alternative rock music in the UK.

Chiara Strazzulla


Image: Chiara Strazzulla

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