Panic Room came to Gloucester Guildhall on the penultimate date of the first leg of their spring tour, following on from the release of the well-received fourth album “Incarnate” and a successful appearance at the HRH Prog festival in Pwllheli back in March. With no support there was a long wait until they rolled the now-familiar intro tape of Luna Rossa’s “Gasp” and the band finally hit the stage an hour and a half after the doors opened.
The setlist was a very interesting mix of old and new. The new album “Incarnate” naturally features heavily, with no fewer than eight of the album’s ten songs in the set. They opened with the atmospheric “Into Temptation” lead into album’s rockiest number “Velocity”, then “Start the Sound” with Adam O’Sullivan’s volume control guitar work and some very imaginative drumming from Gavin Griffiths.
The middle part of the set the band ran through an eclectic mix of older numbers, with some established favourites alongside a few unexpected choices. The extended “Chameleon” with a jazzy solo from Adam O’Sullivan and a great flute solo from Anne-Marie was a particular highlight. Anne-Marie’s spirited take on “I Am A Cat” demonstrated how obviously she enjoyed singing that one live, and made its inclusion in the set more than welcome.
The closing part of the main set showcased more of the new album, including the soaring ballad “All That We Are”, ending with the massive brooding epic “Dust”. Unlike some acts, Panic Room have never been a band that rely on the same standards tour after tour, and the way they’re willing to mix things up keeps things fresh. The first two (of four!) encores bore this out, with two of the rockier numbers from “Skin” presented in the acoustic arrangements we’d heard at the Incarnate launch party back in February. They followed that with another couple of new numbers, with a very powerful version of Incarnate’s title track closing the evening.
This was a superb gig. Panic Room are now back up to the level they’d reached before Paul Davies left the band a year ago, and it’s great to see them firing on all cylinders again. It’s taken new guitarist Adam O’Sullivan a few gigs to find his feet, but he now fits the band perfectly; he more than does the older songs justice, and makes his mark on the new material with his more laid-back jazz-inflected style. The new material comes over very well live, if anything more strongly than on record.
The band return in June for the second leg which includes shows in Bath, Reading, Bilston, London and Preston, among others.