We Are Augustines – London – live review

We Are Augustines
Shepherds Bush Empire, London
1 October 2012

Live review

This band have been through their fair share of adversity but that just makes their London show all the more celebratory. 

“…..and a lit cigarette was being held by the hand that was hanging out of the opened window,whilst every now and then I heard shouting and crying…….I Ignored it the first evening and when it happened again on Sunday that is when I called the police……”

….and so, THANKS to a neighbour with a self imposed smoking ban inside his house and the sounds of bloody X FACTOR echoing around the neighbourhood from THAT open window, THAT is how I discovered that the talent show had been on for a few weeks and THAT is how I learnt that most of the contestants were riddled with sob stories about their dead Granny, or dead dog, or dead cat, or ….or whatever.

And THAT is what then reminded me that there are some people in this world of ours that think that if they go on a talent show with these stories then someone will take pity and turn them into a pop star and THAT is why TV shows like that SUCK because THAT is the sort of nonsense that people watch then start believing and when shit happens SOMEONE will feel sorry for them and begin teasing them into believing that they MIGHT be good enough to get that stretch limo and army of security guards like ONE DIRECTION have and all for the entertainment of those who don’t go out on a Saturday night and have a self imposed smoking ban in their living room.

…Meanwhile on the very same planet, made up from the same species, a band called “WE ARE AUGUSTINES” exist and boy have THEY had their fair share of shit to deal with over the years.

So, when they walk onto this stage tonight and are greeted by an enthusiastic audience in the same way that some bands are given as they walk OFF at the end of a show, it is apparent that a lot of people know the well documented story of singer Billy McCarthy’s experiences in regards to a series of traumatic incidents that the band have had to overcome whilst making the latest album \’Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ (twice).

Whilst some people expect to be given things in return to being dealt a bad hand in life, there are others who will bang their fist on a table, pick up a guitar and let it all out in a song or twelve. THIS is a man who gives the impression that he knows how to deal with shit and THIS is a lesson that people of all ages should take a note of because when Billy opens his mouth and begins over an hour of anthems, THAT is what’s written all over his face.

These are BIG tunes, sung by a big man with a big heart and its a big noise that gets people punching the air, shouting hey ! hey! – during “Philadelphia (city of Brotherly Love)” in all the right places and sometimes, one or twice during the evening, just stand there hugging the person beside them whilst swaying too and fro – this also occurs during “Philadelphia (city of Brotherly Love)” which for the sharp eyed amongst you will notice has the same title.

They play two very different versions of this song tonight, one fist pumping heavy version and one at the end which is basically a piano lead tear jerking ballad. Bass player Eric Sanderson can be seen at times, fist clenched punching his strings, holding his axe in the air and pointing to the sky probably thinking “thanks, isn’t this terrific ?”

He’s been a buddy of McCarthy’s before during and since all the turbulence and more than once during the show, in between the occasional smiles, they end songs with a quick embrace and a sincere thanks. Not only to the large crowd in attendance this evening but to the people behind this project, not on stage this evening (or any other evening) but certainly close by standing below the same roof as us all who have helped this machine move in a way that appears to grind on satisfactory for all concerned.

Musically, it’s a bit Springsteen, a bit Arcade Fire, a bit Gaslight Anthem and done with the extreme passion that a band of this calibre need in order to pull off a set like this without having to wave flags and behave all showbiz.

With Sanderson bouncing between bass and keyboard duties and a brass section sneaking in from the side every now and then as well as the additional guitarist, the trio swell into a seven piece during a lot of the songs.

This isn’t a band going through the motions this evening. This is a band celebrating a night out with us all. Drums pounding, guitars flying and a great sing-a-long for those who all know the words, transporting those in attendance into the world of these New Yorkers and inviting everyone to their party.

And in nearly 90 minutes we discover just how much love there really is in this room.

We Are Augustines have two more UK dates before heading to Europe. You can catch them at:

  • Nottingham Rescue Rooms – Monday 8 October
  • Birmingham Ballroom – Tuesday 9 October.
All words by Keith Goldhanger. You can read more from Keith on LTW here.
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Keith Goldhanger -- Spent the '90s as a frontman with London noise merchants HEADBUTT - spent the '80s in 'Peel favourites' BASTARD KESTREL. Spent a few years mashing up tunes and remixing bands as HIDEOUS WHEEL INVENTION. Is often out and about getting in the way of things and bumping his head on low ceilings - Will give your band the time of day but will dislike any band that balances full pints of alcohol on the top of guitar amps (Not keen on lead singers that wear hats either).


  1. Love your review. Wasn’t at this particular gig but have seen the band three times in the last week. You really understand the band and what they are about, well done and well written.


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