Live: Don Broco

UEA, Norwich December 2, 2023

by Olivia Keer

The Birthday Party tour sees Don Broco visit smaller venues than they’ve played recently. Last year’s Amazing Things tour saw them play in arenas, and this change in venue size is a welcome move for fans wanting a more intimate experience.

As Rob Damiani, Tom Doyle, UEA alumni Simon Delaney and Matt Donnelly emerge on stage, the opening of Gumshields breaks out. Mixing elements of hardcore and heavy rock, it sparks a rowdy mosh pit that engulfs the floor, and things don’t calm down until the set’s conclusion.

Welcome back, Simon (Picture: Paul Jones)
Welcome back, Simon (Picture: Paul Jones)

Older fans of Don Broco might be pleasantly surprised as they play songs from their 2012 debut album, including the title track and first single Priorities as well as the warmly-welcomed Actors.

The band’s musical progression and genre versatility is hard to ignore with these alternative-rock tracks slotted in between more recent nu-metal songs that harbour electronic and synth elements.

Bassist Tom Doyle (Picture: Paul Jones)
Bassist Tom Doyle (Picture: Paul Jones)

With their genre fluidity and fusion creating such a varied catalogue of songs, and with their intense live shows as the passionate frontman Damiani commands the stage, Don Broco get better and better.

Damiani tells us how Norwich has a special place in the band’s hearts, thanks to Delaney’s UEA links, and the singer recounts an antidote about one of their first shows – before they had even settled on the name Don Broco – which took place at the university as part of the band society’s showcase.

Rob Damiani is an engaging presence throughout (Picture: Paul Jones)
Rob Damiani is an engaging presence throughout (Picture: Paul Jones)

The song that gives the tour its name has an ironic twist to it, with the lyrics “I threw a party for my birthday / Nobody showed, it wasn’t worth it” sung in front of a crowd that stretches into the far corners of the venue. This birthday party is one that is absolutely worth it.

The iconic Everybody makes it feel as though the night is coming to a close as things reach a peak with the mosh pit-inviting instrumentals and its huge energy. The four-piece bleed confidence while blazing lights flash to the continuous and addictive beat.

Matt Donnelly on drums and vocals (Picture: Paul Jones)
Matt Donnelly on drums and vocals (Picture: Paul Jones)

As the familiar chant of “One more song” fades out, the Bedford boys return to the stage with Fingernails, sparking a sea of crowd surfers.

And with the lyrics “They’re saying there’s one song left / No time for no regrets,” there’s only one song that can round off the evening.

Simon Delaney on stage in a familiar venue (Picture: Paul Jones)
Simon Delaney on stage in a familiar venue (Picture: Paul Jones)

With a rockier feel than some of the other tracks tonight, T-Shirt Song creates a community-like atmosphere, with people on each other’s shoulders and T-shirts swinging around their heads as everyone sings in unison.

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