Thursday 13th May 2010 – Third Eye Blind w/ The Upwelling at O2 Empire, Shepherd’s Bush

Third Eye Blind are another for the category of bands I’d long given up hope of ever getting to see live by the late 2000’s. My introduction to them, as I expect is true for many on this side of the Atlantic, was the American Pie soundtrack. I’m not ashamed to say that for a few years the mixtapes created by the original trilogy of films gave me a checklist of bands to seek out. Most weren’t to be found on the racks at HMV though.

I got lucky one day in 2003, maybe 2004, when I found a copy of 3EB’s third album Out of the Vein in one my regular second hand haunts, Red Rock Records (which amazingly, is still there twenty years later). It fast became my favourite album and I didn’t even care that their biggest hit, Semi-Charmed Life wasn’t even on this record, I liked these songs just as much, if not more.

In the years that followed I went back and completed the discography, but nothing new came from the band, other than continual rumours about the albums worth of material that frontman, Stephan Jenkins was working on. By 2009 we finally got Ursa Major, supposedly one of two new records, and eventually the announcement of their first UK shows in a decade.

I’ve only been to Shepherd’s Bush Empire a handful of times throughout my gig-going days, it’s a unique venue in that it’s quite tall inside, with three levels. Standing downstairs (as is to be expected) and seating on the two above. I’ve only ever watched a show here downstairs, with this gig being no exception to that. History would repeat itself less than a year later with me being back here to see another band I loved in 2004 and never thought I’d get to see. Fortunately this evening went a lot better than that one did (see that post for more details).

I seem to remember Stephan walking out on stage in a top hat, which seemed pretty true to his character. They opened with Faster, the opening track from Out of the Vein, which remained my favourite of their albums, so I was pretty pleased about this, even though the rest of the set list was pretty light on that album.

A couple of unusual things about the show, firstly, the encore was over a 1/4 of the length of the entire set. I don’t know if this was intentional or they’d just got a bit carried away and kept playing. Secondly, this was one of only two times I’ve seen a band close a show with a song they’d played earlier in the night. Admittedly this was more of a reprise of the track, Bonfire, mostly consisting of the crowd chanting the ‘woah-ohh’s’ along with Stephan until he finally left the stage like a pied piper of 90’s alt rock. The other band I saw do this were Wheatus. I bet you can’t guess which song they played twice (no reprise on that one, the track in full both times).

A great night of long awaited music aside, the standout memory from the night is one that, in doing my research for this post, I have found well document by reputable purveyor of music journalism, the Daily Star.

“Unsurprisingly, Semi-Charmed Life was their strongest weapon, with even the more mature fans happily diving into the mosh pit and braving a crowd surf.”

Nicola McCafferty, The Daily Star

One brave surfer was my good friend and accomplice in Saint November Records, Sir Thomas of Clarke. Far from mature at the ripe age of his early twenties, Tom had made his pledge prior to the show that he would get involved when Third Eye Blind played this song. It’s the only time I’ve seen him crowd surf in 14 years of attending gigs together and it didn’t end well for him. Re-emerging from the behind the barricade he found his way back to where we were standing and informed us that he’d broken his glasses.

Hilarious though this was to Ed and I, perhaps more concerning was that he’d driven us.

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