The Goa Express find themselves in Manchester on a balmy Friday night: the sun has been beating down on the city all week, and the Lancashire five-piece have something of a homecoming show in YES’ Pink Room to kick off a bank holiday weekend.
James Douglas Clarke (Guitar + Vocals), Joe Clarke (Keys), Joey Stein (Lead Guitar), Naham Muzaffar (Bass), and Sam Launder (Drums) make up TGE, who are fresh from the release of a brand new single and the announcement of their eponymous debut record. Before the group have even taken to the stage, YES’ Pink Room is at fever pitch – its bank holiday Friday, pints have been consumed and the band shuffle on stage with such a casual swagger, you would be forgiven for assuming they were roadies.
Big hitter, ‘Portrait’ is early on the set, sending the crowd into raptures. James Douglas Clarke is unflinchingly unbothered by the whole affair, his twelve-string slung around his shoulder, Clarke stares back at the chaos, drinking in every moment of the swirling, shouting crowd. They follow ‘Portrait’ with brand new single ‘Talking About Stuff’: the charming love song is set to unstoppable indie rock, with the wider band coming together with exceptional results. The Goa Express are a fairly new band, as things go, but already at this early stage of their career they have some hardcore fans: it’s rare to see overjoyed fans screaming song lyrics at each other mere days after the single dropped, but The Goa Express have managed it.
‘Good Luck Charm’ is another highlight, as is set closer ‘Overpass’, with the latter seeing Clarke whip out a harmonica for the outro. TGE are clearly on the precipice of something huge here; their appeal is undeniable, blurring the lines between pop, rock, indie, Britpop and more. Their tunes are tailor-made for festivals, and before long you’ll be watching this band tearing it up to bigger and bigger crowds. It is a real privilege to see The Goa Express in such an iconic room, and it seems likely that this band’s star is in transcendent ascendency.
photo credit: Harvey Pearson