It’s been a pretty shit year for bands breaking up. Kids In Glass Houses, The Blackout and Canterbury were three key British acts to announce their demise in 2014. Last week, LostAlone also called time after almost 10 years of inspiring music lovers all over the world. Fans travelled from as far afield as Brazil, Japan, France, Italy, Spain and the United Arab Emirates to attend the band’s farewell show in their hometown. It was an extremely emotional night for everyone involved.
This writer feels honoured to have been invited by the band to introduce them on stage for the final time, and working so closely with them over the years has been an absolute privilege and a joy – despite sharing some of the difficulties and heartache they’ve been through. They’ve been messed around by the industry throughout their career, and many lesser acts would’ve thrown in the towel long ago. LostAlone, however, persevered where others wouldn’t because the band meant everything to all three of its members – Steven Battelle (lead vocals, guitar) Alan Williamson (bass, backing vocals) and Mark Gibson (drums, backing vocals) – and they always unequivocally believed in the music they were making.
The set list for their last goodbye contained no less than 22 songs, and featured all the well known tracks from their three studio releases (Say No To The World, I’m A UFO In This City and Shapes Of Screams), with the concentration focusing on the two most recent records. Beginning with Crusaders and ending with Doooooooooomageddon (Global Thermonuclear Metafictional Warfare), the show felt more like a quasi-religious experience with a biblical live soundtrack than your standard rock concert, and there were smiles, laughter, hugs and tears from everyone gathered at various points throughout the evening.
It still hasn’t quite sunk in really, how a band can start a year releasing one of the most bold, bombastic and utterly brilliant albums of the century, only to announce they’re breaking up by the end of it, especially when recently released singles like G.U.I.L.T.Y. and The Bells! The Bells! sound so unbelievably huge live. Numerous writers have pointed out in the past how LostAlone should’ve followed their friends and fellow fans in My Chemical Romance, Thirty Seconds To Mars and Paramore to the arenas, and with compositions like Hostages to their name they absolutely should have. The response from the 500 adoring fans, friends and family members in attendance for the final show was a brutal reminder of what a tragedy it is this band never got the recognition and success they deserved, and what a loss their retirement means to modern music.
Tonight was a poignant reminder that LostAlone were a band of brothers, and the interplay between its three members is what made the band’s dynamic so special. It was heart warming hearing Steven repeatedly name check his band mates during the show too, and although he’d never come out and say it because it’s not his style, it was obvious watching them play together one last time just how much LostAlone love each other, and how essential each member was to that band.
Ultimately the night belonged to LostAlone’s fans though, just as the music will forever belong to the people who love them. It’s the fans who stuck by the band and supported them during the dark times, and it’s the fans for whom Steven Battelle writes such inspirational songs about life, love and hope in the face of despair. And they repaid the favour when it came to crunch time, surprising the band during their encore when seemingly the entire room simultaneously lifted up signs saying ‘Thank you’ during Requiem, which then transformed the song into a eulogy for the band. It was like something out of a film, and definitely caught the guys off guard. Steven Battelle actually broke down, and unable to sing the chorus he loving chastised his supporters, saying “You’ve literally destroyed me”, before pulling it together and soldiering on with the remainder of the set.
For the penultimate number, Battelle invited those who had travelled from abroad and made an extra special effort to see the band off up on the stage to help LostAlone sing their anthem Love Will Eat You Alive, by which point it’s safe to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Just thinking about it now risks setting off waterworks again. It was the perfect ending to an incredibly significant chapter in the band’s and fans’ lives alike. If you weren’t there, you probably stopped caring about LostAlone when the buzz around them died out, but those who were there witnessed one of the finest performances. From the heavy (Scarlet Letter Rhymes and Vesuvius) to the soaring (Paradox On Earth and Creatures) and absolutely heart breaking (Mental Health) there’s simply no other band alive like LostAlone, and hopefully one day the songwriting genius of their leader Steven Battelle will get the respect it warrants.
Team Rock would like to wish all three members of the band all the success and happiness in the world with whatever they individually go on to do next. We’d also like to thank LostAlone for personally tearing out our hearts and ripping off our faces with their towering display of riffology and melody at their final show. It was the ideal way to bring 2014 to a close – reflecting with fondness and pensiveness on everything that has happened this year, and looking ahead with uncertainty and excitement to the adventures that lie ahead for 2015. Merry Christmas boys.
LostAlone, live at The Venue Derby, 19 December 2014. Photos: Jodie Cunningham