Unusually, there were no supporting bands for this show, but to be fair, no introduction or warm-up was needed for the crowd ahead of the arrival on stage of Brainstorm, a band very much beloved in their tiny home country Latvia where they are well known for their pop-rock tunes.
The four-piece – Renārs Kaupers (vocals, guitar), Jānis Jubalts (guitar), Māris Mihelsons (keyboard, other instruments), Kaspars Roga (drums, percussion) – came to Birmingham for the first of three UK dates. There were mainly Latvians in the crowd, but on frontman Renārs Kaupers’ question of whether there was anyone who doesn’t speak Latvian at all in the room, more than just a few hands did go up.
The band has songs in Latvian, Russian and English, though the majority of them were in their mother tongue. Even though they are not that well known abroad, Brainstorm did gain some international popularity after coming third in Eurovision Song Contest 2000 with song My Star. And they tend to bring out two albums at the same time – one in Latvian/Russian for their Latvian fans and one aimed for their international fans with songs in English/Russian.
Many in the crowd were born in the 70’s/80’s and grew up and matured together with the band. They knew, of course, all the songs by heart, and were more than happy to sing along, so it was no wonder that a big chunk of the setlist was older material, including all of Brainstorm’s classics. There were also some new songs from the just released album Par To Zēnu, Kas Sit Skārda Bungas (About The Boy Who Plays The Thin Drum).
I do have to say, with the large amount of concerts I have photographed, only a few have stood out with fans’ genuine appreciation for the artist and this is definitely one of them. I mean, how often do we see fans having flowers with them to give to the artist during the set, even after the encore, fans continuing to chant ‘we want more’ in a desperate attempt to persuade them to deliver a second encore.
So if you’re unfamiliar with a band whose pedigree includes support slots for the likes of Depeche Mode and The Cranberries, as well as a Glastonbury appearance, you should check them out if fresh pop-rock tunes are your thing. And don’t be scared off if your Latvian is a little shaky – they have plenty of material in English too.
Review & photos: Arta Gailuma
Brainstorm – Par To Zēnu, Kas Sit Skārda Bungas (About The Boy Who Plays The Thin Drum)