This ship is unsinkable
Elli Chappelhow
13:40 6th December 2019

More about:

Sports Team don’t do things by halves. Promising brass bands, pyrotechnics and their usual tomfoolery, we all knew we were in for a big one, with them advising us to ‘turn on our Out Of Office’ and ‘call in sick’ in anticipation…

’Let Me Entertain You’ blasts out the Forum PA, whipping the crowd into even more of a frenzy. A badass drum intro to fan favourite ‘Margate’ from drummer Al Greenwood sets the euphoric tone for the night, which had been laid down nice and strong by supports Alfie Templeman and Pip Blom. There’s a real sense of coming full circle with this show: Pip and Sports Team toured together back in the March of 2018, where they played the likes of MOTH Club. How far they’ve come - that’s a tasty 2,000 cap jump!

The show is a spectacle, with Rice cavorting around the stage, demanding as much attention as humanly possible. By beating his chest and theatrically mouthing incomprehensible narratives, it’s a refreshing change to the trend of bands not even acknowledging their audience. However, Sports Team don’t need to demand this attention - they already have the whole of the Forum singing back at them. Even deadpan synth player Ben Mack, who makes literally no effort to even twitch his facial muscles, is just as intensely captivating as Rice.

To get this kind of reception in these venues without even an album behind them yet, armed only with a string of coveted singles, is a real feat to behold. The unheard tracks slot nicely into the set; the only telltale sign that they’re unreleased is that nobody is able to shout every lyric back to them this time. Even ‘The Races’, released only a mere three weeks ago, is welcomed with as big a response as their tracks released over a year ago. This evidences the true fanbase Sports Team have garnered, ranging from those worrying about GCSE exams to those worrying about their pensions. It’s generation encompassing, just because it incites that pure giddy feeling of youth.

You can tell how much the show means to them. At one point in the set, Alex Rice crouches at the front of stage to address the younger fans, saying “It means the world, this is a proper crowd,  this is what a crowd should look like”. Sports Team have really worked hard to build a sense of community, something that really is evidenced when Rice points out people in the crowd who he recognises. “I’ve seen you grow up mate. You’re taller, more handsome, bolder.”

There are also many visual stimuli that echo earlier performances at Scala and Electric Ballroom, such as Rice clambering on the Forum’s PA system during 'Kutcher', balloons lobbed into the crowd, foliage strewn stages, confetti cannons - all this contributes to this sense of euphoria at the climax of the set, yet this performance at Forum takes this to another level. Sports Team finish their victory lap by bringing the gig full circle, blasting out another Williams classic in the form of ‘Angels’. Who knows, maybe even famously deadpan Ben Mack cracked a smile behind his sunnies…

More about:

Photo: Ryan Lauricourt