PREVIEW: The War On Drugs at O2 Academy, Newcastle on 27th February 2015


As we approach the end of 2014 the thoughts of journalists and critics start to turn to compiling endless lists of the best of everything that’s emerged over the previous year. It seems we are all sent half crazy comparing different and diverse films, shows, albums and books. I’m no different and as I write I’ve just finished compiling my list of my favourite tracks of 2014. In my view it’s been a vintage year for music with some cracking albums from new and established artists. If you check out the music magazines like Uncut and Mojo there’s a fair bit of diversity but one name features near the top of the ‘best album’ lists in all of the music press and that’s The War on Drugs and their fantastic third album “Lost in The Dream”. Uncut had the album at No.1 in their list and called it “an album that turns private hurt into public catharsis”; heady praise indeed. Mojo meanwhile, described it as sounding like “Spiritualized covering the Travelling Wilbury’s.” The New Musical Express didn’t hold back calling it “Perfect in every way”. Rolling Stone had it at No.23 and declared it “The Philly dudes tripped out classic rock vibe” – whatever that means!

My dictionary tells me that The War on Dugs is “a United States domestic and foreign campaign of enforcement against international illegal drug trade”! I’m here to tell you that it’s the name of an excellent American band that are set to knock your socks off. Whilst the main man Adam Granduciel said of the name “my friend Julian and I came up with it a few years ago over a couple bottles of red wine and a few typewriters when we were living in Oakland. We were writing a lot back then, working on a dictionary, and it just came out and we were like “hey, good band name” so eventually when I moved to Philadelphia and got a band together I used it. It was either that or The Rigatoni Danzas. I think we made the right choice. I always felt though that it was the kind of name I could record all sorts of different music under without any sort of predictability inherent in the name”.

Three albums into their career you can hear that that thought has had some impact on the band as they certainly are anything but predictable and their music doesn’t really sound like anyone else.

Kurt Vile, who’s now well into his own career, was an early member of this wonderful band and current media darling Sharon Van Etten has championed the band in the past. They’ve had a floating cast of band members with the focus always on the angst ridden song writing of Mr Granduciel. All of this should tell you that what we have here is a real rarity – a band that everyone seems to agree is producing something new, something innovative and something for anyone who likes challenging rock music that sets the pulse racing and really DOESN’T allow you to shrug your shoulders and think “I’ve heard this before and it sounds like…..”

Do yourself a big favour and head down to the O2 on 27 February and see what is certain to be one of the highlights of 2015.

Previewer: Greg Johnson

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