"It's a f***ing privilege". Normally when a band says this, you casually dismiss it as pandering to the audience, but for once I might believe these guys. After all, it's the smallest venue on the tour, and as they say "it'll probably be the last time they play a place this size", and they're busy belting out the hook-heavy and big chorus-laden tunes to a rapturous rammed audience.
Opening with single 'Away From Here', the normally classy Empire is bouncing along to the first sing-along of the evening, all controlled by a charismatic and engaging front-man. '40 Days and 40 Nights' is just a blinding bit of gang-rock, the sound of a group of guys living out their dreams before us, and 'Technodanceaphobic' has one of the best choruses of this or many other years, sound-tracking our continued bouncing (god help the people in the bar downstairs).
'Had Enough'? We haven't yet, as the big huge drums beat us into submission and devotion. Even microphone problems during the acoustic led 'We'll Live And Die In These Towns' (a call to arms for this generation of disaffected provincial youth) don't pose a problem, with the crowd again taking over for the choruses. For 'This Song' we are joined by a hidden keyboard player (the stage is that small with all the amps, that all we can see of him is his cheery thumbs up).
Closing their short set (they've only got one album after all) with 'You're Not Alone', we are informed that they nearly didn't make it due to illness, but they're glad they made it. So are we.