Review: Don Broco – Cambridge Corn Exchange

There’s nobody doing it quite like Don Broco. In the space of 15 years, they’ve gone from playing small, intimate venues in their local town of Bedford, to selling out iconic, prestigious venues all over the UK, such as the iconic Alexandra Palace. Their latest album, Amazing Things, shot straight up to #1 in the UK Album Charts in October 2021, further cementing their status as one of the UK’s hottest bands right now, as they effortlessly fuse together their blend of alt-rock with bursts of electronic rock and waves of post-hardcore greatness. Maybe I’m a little biased when I say this, seeing as tonight’s Cambridge gig is my 9th Don Broco gig overall, but I truly believe that the band really do get better with every show that passes, and with every album era that they go through. Tonight, as I expected, was certainly no exception to that statement. The Bedford boys were ON FIRE once again.

As the Corn Exchange crowd were getting themselves prepared for the show, restless and freezing as they were, they engaged in a few sing-a-longs that ranged from Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz, to Walk This Way by Aerosmith. Then, as if by magic, the background music was cut dead and the lights went down. Within seconds of this abrupt change happening, the intro to Gumshield rang out through the venue, as people started to vocalise the intro. Or, if you’d rather, “duh-duh-duh-duh” along… The first of many Broco pits opened up during its breakdown, and lots of people gathered around its circular walls, ready to collide with each other (including me, who slipped over in the pit during this moment, but we won’t talk anymore about that!) – every single one of them having the time of their lives. After they did Uber, vocalist Rob Damiani addressed the crowd, saying “I gotta admit, I’m not in a good way tonight, Cambridge. I fucked my neck up at the Brighton show a few nights ago.” Despite this setback, which restricted how much he moved around onstage, he still managed to look cool and confident, as he strutted around and vibed along to every meaty riff and groovy rhythm that his 3 mates played alongside him.

There were a fair share of early tracks that got the live treatment tonight as well – to the surprise of everybody in the venue, they brought back Fancy Dress from their 2012 debut Priorities, which got a deafening response and a huge moshpit to match. You Wanna Know, from the EP of the same name, made everybody groove along to its funky verses and jump around to its anthemic choruses. And halfway through the set, guitarist Si switched his PRS electric for an acoustic, and joined forces with Rob to play a special, stripped-down rendition of Yeah Man; a song that worked just as well acoustically as it normally does within a full band setting. Otherwise, the set was full of their mainstay classics, fan favourites, and new tracks. This tour saw the live debut of an Amazing Things track called Revenge Body which, after hearing it live tonight, makes you wonder why the fuck it was never played before in the first place – it sits in the setlist perfectly and doesn’t feel like it sticks out at all.

It’s worth noting that this Cambridge date is the closest they will get to a hometown show on this tour (Bedford is 30 miles away from Cambs) so it’s a very special show for them. After they tore through Come Out to LA, Rob takes a moment to tell us a story of their first Cambridge show, where they played at The Junction for a Battle of the Bands competition and explained how they “got absolutely robbed” by losing to a band called Turn. “Well, where are Turn now, huh? Where are they now?!” Rob shouts into the microphone, sneakily smirking with his tongue fully in cheek. The Cambs crowd were on another level too – when you think of this city, you may think of posh students going to one of our many universities, all dignified, well-presented, and well-dressed. And you’d be right, but if you took a moment to look around the hall during One True Prince, you’d see another side of them, as the floor opened up wide for… a tugboat pit. I’m not even joking. “I can’t find the right words to thank you enough for coming out to see us tonight” Rob says shortly before going into Everybody, getting a mix of applause and cheers back in his direction.

As the band went into their final song of the night, T-Shirt Song, the crowd took their shirts off in unison, as if by command, and started to swing every single one in the air. It was such a brilliant moment in the show and one that was so fun to watch and take part in. Skindred, with their Newport Helicopter, would be green with envy at how many people took part, both standing and seating included! Everybody sang until their voices blew out and their shirts creased in the air – but after the 4 minutes of fun, the hour-and-a-half ride was over. The band took a moment to look out into the sea of faces, and Rob produced a big fat smile that looked as if it wouldn’t disappear even if he tried. After saying “thank you” to everyone, the band left the stage and the lights came back on. People everywhere started to hug each other, whether they were friends or strangers, before filing out one by one into the cold Cambridge night, taking with them the memories of the past couple of hours as they watched Don Broco do what they do best – Amazing Things. Pun definitely intended.

Review -Joe Richardson

Remaining tour dates:

DECEMBER 2023
12 – Newcastle, O2 City Hall
13 – Manchester, O2 Victoria Warehouse
13 – Wolverhampton, KK’s Steel Mill
16 – Bournemouth, O2 Academy
17 – London, KOKO (SOLD OUT)
18 – London, KOKO (SOLD OUT)
19 – London, KOKO

Birthday party photo credit: Tom Pullen

Don Broco official website, here.

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