LIVE REVIEW: Holding Absence @ Rebellion, Manchester (27/03/2019)

Credit: Bethan Miller

Date: March 27th, 2019
Venue: Rebellion, Manchester
Support: Luke Rainsford / The Nightmares


It’s felt like the longest wait for us to be finally live in a world where a Holding Absence album exists, but it’s finally a reality. After a handful of years of one-off singles, and a few speed bumps almost completely halting it, the Welsh outfit finally dropped their self-titled debut not long ago, and it’s safe to say that fans found it worth the wait.

Originally tipped as a co-headline tour with California’s Capsize before they dropped off from the tour (and online too) entirely, Holding Absence have taken to make the best of a bad situation. Instead, the focus is on them and celebrating their album’s eventual release.

Of course, with a sudden and unexpected tour shake up line-ups can change quickly, and fellow Welsh newbies The Nightmares [6] have been granted a chance to hit the road with their headlining peers. With their debut EP not far from release, these lot are very much fresh on the ears of the Manchester crowd, sounding like what you’d get if you grabbed Echo & The Bunnymen and draped them in some modern era emo.

Indeed, there’s something very modern yet old school goth album them, and songs like ‘Kaleidoscope Mind’ and ‘Adore’ certainly show promise, though it’s easy to see that the quartet are still trying to find their feet a little bit, and that’s fine. There’s time for them to flex their potential yet.

Singer/songwriter Luke Rainsford [7] has also jumped onto the touring bill, and his emo tinged acoustic pop-rock brings a bit more of an intimate and self-reflective feeling into proceedings, even with the extra snap, crackle and pop that comes with the accompanying band that he has alongside him this time around.

Rainsford isn’t afraid to talk about the tougher and harder to discuss topics and conversation, and this introspective and unashamed approached to discussion points that to some are considered taboo makes him not only relatable, but a respected up-and-comer too.

It goes without saying that the main attraction here is the grayscale loving Holding Absence [9]. The venue begins to flood and pack out moments before their set begins, and when it finally ensues then so does the soul bearing. It’s hard to not get emotionally invested into the likes of ‘Perish’ and ‘Wilt’, and when they’re delivered live you can only get plunged into their impassion depths further.

Frontman Lucas Woodland has really become more and more of a vocal powerhouse since he joined the band in 2016, and with that talent alone he manages to establish himself worthy enough to stand beside his genre contemporaries who’ve been at it more than twice as long. He sits alone with nothing but a keyboard onstage with him for ‘Marigold’, and its fragility is something to be both admired and adored in equal measure.

Understandably, with a catalogue of just one album and a few singles, it’s a short-lived set for a headlining act, but without question tonight is evidence that quality far outweighs quantity. ‘Monochrome’ encourages your to bounce in unison with Ashley Green’s pounding drum work, ‘Like A Shadow’ might be one of the biggest emo bops of 2019 thus far, and with the anguish ridden ‘Penance’ closing things off, it’s clear that nights like this will just be minor notes compared to what this band can achieve.

Indeed, what has allowed Holding Absence to soar so vehemently is not just their craft for creating emotional works that can envelope you completely, but also their unashamed willingness to expose the vulnerability of being human. We can never have enough of that.