We went to see the Beths perform at The Dome as they embark on a series of summer headline shows across Europe.
The success of New Zealand band The Beths over the past year has been refreshing. There’s not much of a story to pitch; in short, four friends who met at a jazz college in Auckland decided to try their hand at college pop-rock with somehow both a loose, raw aesthetic and tight precision, songs with a seemingly happy-go-lucky feel but with a strong emotive kick that usually pierces through somewhere around the halfway point of each song à la the title track of their 2018 debut album, Future Me Hates Me. Indeed, their earnest, no-bullshit-ness translated effortlessly onto the record and was a great part of its success as is pushed its way rightfully onto many an end-of-year list.
This loveable Antipodean group’s return to Europe this summer for a series of headline shows and festival appearances was then much anticipated, with their London show at The Dome early on in the tour selling out far in advance. There’s something initially incongruous about seeing them walk onto the high-platform stage in the large, school-hall style architecture of the The Dome, but after only seconds of the scuzzy riff of opener ‘Future Me Hates Me’ their friendly persona emanates warmly. The energy of ‘Not Running’ sets the pace for the evening as the group blasts through the majority of the record surprisingly quickly, though it’s rewarding to hear a couple of cuts to their earlier EP Warm Blood; the dynamic switches of ‘Idea/Intent’ are galvanising.
After endearingly taking turns to introduce each other the rest of the band leave most of the talking for the evening to the band’s leader Liz Stokes, who admittedly doesn’t appear to enjoy the task but gets away with it as she comically resorts to “We’re The Beths”. The awkward charm is half the reason we’re here though, and tracks such as ‘Happy Unhappy’ and ‘You Wouldn’t Like Me’ wouldn’t have half the honest sentiment and appeal behind them without it, regardless of how tight, well-practiced and polished they seem this evening ahead of a busy summer.