The Love & Riots Diaries: On Tour With The Hearts

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Alt Scribe’s debut diary entry covering The Hearts was mostly a history lesson, a speed-date that bolted you through six months worth of those awkward first introductions with barely enough time to nervously spill a pint all over your jeans.

I hope, (I know), you enjoyed yourself and knew you’d be back for a second date, perhaps even a tour date? (see what I did there?).

At the end of the first entry, I left you all hanging just as The Hearts were about to embark on their first UK headline tour; little did they know, they’d be seeing me for much more than just a second date, or a third, or a…seventh. And this time, pints would definitely be spilled.

May 2015. On Tour With The Hearts. 

I’m no stranger to travel; in recent years, travelling around the UK (and beyond) for live music has become one of my favourite hobbies. The only difference between tours I’ve done before and The Hearts’ tour, was that I was travelling alone this time.  Not that it bothered me, in fact, the advantage of independent travel is that you’re completely free to do whatever you want, and that includes meeting new people and getting to see old friends.

Throughout this Love & Riots diary entry, I’m going to introduce you to some of the people I was lucky enough to meet across seven dates of tour I attended. These (totally awesome) people have been kind enough to share their experiences of The Hearts’ live shows with me and they have quite a lot to say, so get ready.

Pontypool → Manchester


First stop, Manchester. I’ve only ever seen The Hearts play headline shows in Wales, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from travelling far up to Northern England. I know The Hearts have always had a great relationship with the Scotsespecially Glasgow, having played some pretty successful shows there early this year. As a follow-up token of their gratitude, they kicked off their May  headline tour with a few Scottish dates, including a nearly sold out show at the iconic King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said across the border. Gullivers in Manchester hosted a measly turnout. The Hearts, didn’t seem discouraged, however. Playing to rooms that are even-less-than-half-empty is to be expected on a first tour; if anything, Manchester was proof that it’s not the number of people that really fills up a room but rather the reasons those people, however few, are there. And that night, Gullivers was even-less-than-half-full.

“This song is for you, it’s called ‘Lips‘” frontman, Alex, points to a girl stood towards the edge of the room. She’s young, with her dad, wearing a ‘The Hearts’ logo t-shirt…and she’s beaming as The Hearts’ debut single ‘Lips‘ kicks in. That lucky young lady, was Chloe.


Name: Chloe

Shows: Manchester


“They dedicated a song to me, I found it very sweet of Alex!I first discovered The Hearts supporting Darlia in Leeds and met Alex at that show too. I just fell in love with them, so Manchester was my second time seeing them live.”

“They recognised me before the [Manchester] show, from the Leeds gig and came to talk to me and my dad, then invited us into the dressing room when they finished playing. I mostly spoke to Hamish. He is such a nice person! They’re all very friendly and approachable people. They signed a poster I had and gave me an AAA sticker, which I thought was very kind of them.”

And this is the stuff I’m talking about when I reference the old ‘quality over quantity’ lark – that is not to say that some fans are valued more highly than others, but at this stage in their progressing career, meeting fans like Chloe makes playing to your own echo worth the journey, and by the sounds of things, she’ll be sticking around for more:

“I would definitely go see The Hearts again, they put on a great show no matter how small the audience.”

She’s a keeper.

Manchester  → Liverpool

Next up, Liverpool. With the help of an awesome local support, Jimmy & The Revolvers, The Hearts pulled in a considerably larger and more energetic crowd that night in Studio 2. Their live set hasn’t changed in the time I’ve seen them, but it never gets boring. They open with ‘Run Free‘, which recently stormed the U.S and global Spotify viral charts:

Run Free‘ is quickly followed up with some currently unreleased treats that we only get to hear at The Hearts’ live shows. Despite the majority of the room never hearing the songs before, everyone was tapping their toes and quickly picked up on the lyrics to instantly memorable anthems like ‘Show Me Some Love‘.


There were some members of the crowd in Liverpool who were, however, already quite familiar with The Hearts’ live set. After seeing them in Manchester the night before, one fan, Camm, also made the trip to Liverpool to catch them again.


Name: Camm

Shows: Manchester, Liverpool, ???

“I decided I wanted to go and see them twice because tickets were so cheap! The Manchester show only consisted of about six people, but for me, that made the show more personal and intimate. They invited me and my friend into their dressing room to hang out after the show, this was something so new to me, it made the whole experience so special and I just fell in love with them as a band. I decided I definitely needed to see them again the next night.”

“Liverpool was much busier (than Manchester), there were even people who had travelled from Chester to see them. I brought another friend with me to see them in Liverpool, I didn’t think my experience in Liverpool would top the night before but we were invited into their dressing room again to hang out and drink their beers. Me and my friend from the show didn’t talk about anything else for days after, that night made us both so happy and I really felt like we got to know The Hearts as people which isn’t an opportunity many fans get to have with bands they love.”

As much as I love going to gigs alone, friends who tag along to shows that they don’t really want to go to are the best. And it’s even better when the friends who tag along end up loving the band you’ve dragged them to see just as much as you do. After hanging out with Camm on tour, I got to meet their friend, Janine, from the Liverpool show and had a chat with her about seeing The Hearts for the first time.


Name: Janine

Shows: Liverpool

“I heard about The Hearts through a friend and went along to accompany them and I’m so glad I did. I don’t usually have high expectations to enjoy the music when I see new band, so I was surprised when I actually really loved it. Their songs are catchy and fun, they reminded me what it’s like to have pure excitement over music. As a band, they were so refreshing and genuine, it was clear straight away that they were meant to be on a stage. I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about the show for weeks afterwards, I’d 100% go to see them again, I’m excited to be following their journey from the early stages, they were made for it.”

Liverpool  → Milton Keynes

After a heavy night in Liverpool (for me, anyway) it was time to head to Milton Keynes for what I thought would be the ‘quiet night’ of the tour, unfortunately for me, the venue made the mistake of giving four lads from Newport a ‘free bar card’. The Hearts played in a corner (next to said bar), the audience was mostly made up of people who had just come out for a pint at their local, but The Hearts still performed as they would have done to room full of fans. Their enthusiasm and commitment to their live show very quickly engaged the casual audience and people soon crept forward to get involved with the show, rather than just lingering in the background of the pub. Soon after they finished playing, the free bar card was confiscated, for reasons unknown but I’m positive that it was absolutely nothing to do with the round of eight Sambuca shots, six doubles and a single, solitary beer. At that point, it was time for me to tap out and sleep off two nights worth of hangovers before Birmingham the next day, but I took some comfort in knowing that no matter how rough I felt, I’d never feel as bad as Hamish did the next morning. ham For more gems like this, visit The Hearts’ Facebook page and check out their tour album.

Milton Keynes  → Birmingham

I’m not usually a fan of the ‘hair of the dog’ remedy, but it seemed appropriate for the chilled out atmosphere of the Birmingham show. The Sunflower Lounge is a small venue, so it would have looked busy if only a handful of people showed up, but once again, The Hearts pulled in a decent crowd, especially for a Sunday night. It was obvious at this point during the tour that Manchester must have been a fluke. There were people in the Birmingham crowd who knew the songs and were singing the words back, which is great to see anywhere, but especially outside their home turf of South Wales.

Speaking of home turf, I got to hang out with an old school friend who had since moved to Birmingham; like me, he had been familiar with The Hearts for a while and was impressed with their new and improved sound and their tight live performance; we sat and enthused about how great the songs we were hearing in a tiny cupboard of a room, would sound in arenas one day.

Still feeling fragile from the previous nights, I called it early but only after a quick McDonald’s pit-stop; this is ‘tour life’ after all, nothing you ingest should be good for you.

Birmingham → Nottingham

Nottingham would be my ‘last’ show of this leg of tour, The Hearts would carry on to play: Southampton, Brighton, Winchester and Bedford before heading back to Cardiff, where I would rejoin them for the Welsh dates. I was really hopeful that Nottingham would be a  memorable show for me to finish on, and based on how fantastic the previous shows had been, I was pretty confident Nottingham would be just as great.

I arrived at Bodega early to catch Deco, who were brilliant, and had enough time to hang out with The Hearts before their set. I wanted to make sure I got to see them properly before I headed home the next day. Jamie, Hamish and their lovely dial-a-drummer for this tour, Luke Marc Hughes, were all their usual chatty (albeit still slightly hungover) selves. Alex, on the other hand was quiet, silent even, which is quite the phenomenon.

As soon as The Hearts took to the stage, Alex’s silence suddenly made sense; spluttering over the microphone and snapping a guitar string before the first song of the set was over, it was clear that he was struggling that night. Alex’s normally strong, resonant voice had been reduced to a mere croak. In complete defiance of failing to hit notes, missing lines and missing out ‘Sirens‘ from the set entirely, he tried his best to power through. But after turning to bassist, Jamie, to take over on lead vocals and seeing the concern on both the faces of his bandmates and members of the audience, Alex knew is was time to throw in the towel.

“I’m really sorry, we’re gunna play ‘Lips’ and then we’re gunna have to finish there, can’t risk doing any more damage to my voice. We’ll stick around to hang out, you can all have refunds out of our own wallets if you want ‘em. I’m really sorry.”

Bodega was far from full. The Hearts could have cut their set completely, there wouldn’t have been any riots, but they chugged their way through ‘Lips’ for the few in the crowd who were there proudly wearing the band’s t-shirt, who were stood, alone, front and centre of the room and who were singing along to every word of ‘Lips’,even when Alex couldn’t.


Name: Beth

Shows: Nottingham

“I was so gutted when The Hearts had to cut their set short, but it was for the best.

It was a shame because the crowd were really getting into the show and people seemed genuinely shocked when it got cut short. There were obviously some really disheartened people there. A few people left looking angry … but a lot of people stayed and The Hearts spent time hanging out with everyone, they offered refunds and handed out their beers.

I think the amount of time they spent with everyone earned them a lot of respect from the disappointed crowd, you could tell that The Hearts were disappointed too and how they handled the situation really showed how much they care about their fans. They made a really good impression on everyone there, they’re so down to earth. I’ll definitely be going to see them again. I don’t care where, I’ll happily travel just to see The Hearts again.”

So, Nottingham, not the kind of “memorable” show I was after, but memorable, it certainly was. The Hearts cancelled their show in Southampton the following day and cancelled their upcoming dates in Winchester and Bedford. I was very lucky that I hadn’t booked a train or a room in Southampton for the show the next day, otherwise I would have been kipping in the back of The Hearts’ van all the way back to Wales, and I’m not entirely sure who I’d feel more sorry for in that scenario.

Voice Rest  → The Great Escape Fest.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t make The Great Escape Festival to watch The Hearts perform, but I still found myself nervously awaiting live-tweets from the shores of Brighton. The Great Escape is held in high regard as a festival for up and coming bands and artists, and after The Hearts were forced to cancel shows and Alex only having two days voice rest, I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to do themselves justice.


Thankfully, our trusted editor and regular attendee of The Great Escape Festival, was on the case.


Name: Amy

Shows: The Great Escape Festival- Brighton

“Seeing The Hearts at a festival, I was a bit apprehensive about how well the band would be received, but I had never seen them play before and was excited to watch them. I’m often a bit shy in The Great Escape crowds so my usual singing and swaying was reduced to a toe tap but that doesn’t mean I didn’t really enjoy their set – and, from the sound of the applause, the rest of the shoegazers did too!

When I heard that The Hearts had cancelled shows so close to The Great Escape, I was ready to admit defeat on seeing them. However, the fact they still played was a great surprise and nobody would have guessed that Al had just come off voice rest. It was a full on energetic performance and there was no feeling that anything was forced or that anyone was feeling unwell. I’m sure most of the crowd had no idea how lucky they were that The Hearts were able to perform.

“I really enjoyed their set, and they were one of my favourites of the festival. Due to the ‘nature’ of The Great Escape, you get bands who are only there under sufferance – you can tell they are only playing for the interviews, the press and an Instagram photo of them by the pier. The Hearts, however, played as if it was their own show. There were only a few in the room who knew who they were as a band, and The Hearts knew a fair portion of the audience were only there because of networking but they still played for music lovers, not just the music business. I definitely hope to see them again, and hopefully at one of their own shows!”

Glowing reviews, there, and I don’t think there’s much more I can add to that, Amy’s nailed it (and that’s why she’s in charge around here) [Ed’s note: You’re too kind!]. After hearing that The Hearts has smashed it, all I could do was sit back and smile, knowing they’d pulled off The Great Escape.

Brighton →  Cardiff

After a few more days off and some hot lemon & honey, there was no doubt that The Hearts would be back on top form for their homecoming shows, where they would play to family, friends and a number of their ever-growing and already very loyal, local fan following.


Name: Bronwen

Shows: Cardiff 

“The day the single, ‘Run Free‘ was released on iTunes, I bought it, it was on repeat for the rest of the day. It’s on repeat constantly. I could listen to it all day and it’s so good to sing along and dance to live, it’s energetic. The best thing about seeing The Hearts live is their energy, you can tell they really want to be there and they really care about their audience.”

That sentiment is clearly echoed at the Cardiff show, The Hearts reigned in an impressive audience at Clwb Ifor Bach  with, obviously, many more familiar faces than they’d seen at their other shows, it was refreshing to be part of a more enthusiastic and welcoming crowd. It didn’t feel like The Hearts were playing for the purpose of trying to get people interested in them, people were already interested, they were there and they were having an incredible time.

“When a band is enjoying themselves, the crowd can tell, and they bounce that energy back to the band, The Hearts really feed off that energy  and you could really feel that at the Cardiff show. When I saw them, I only knew the three songs they’d released, but The Hearts’ shows are so personal, I felt like I knew all the songs, which is an unusual experience when you’re hearing new music live.”

It wasn’t just local familiar faces at the Cardiff show that night, remember our friend, Camm, from Manchester and Liverpool? Well they simply couldn’t wait for The Hearts to go back up North, so Camm made a spontaneous trip down to us.


Name: Camm

Shows: Cardiff, (Manchester, Liverpool)

“Knowing I was going away to work abroad in just a few weeks and I’d planned to visit Cardiff before leaving anyway, I was still buzzing from the high of Manchester and Liverpool so I made the decision the night before the Cardiff show to go down and watch them perform. I called in sick and paid £50 for a train ticket, but it was so worth it. The Hearts recognised me and even remembered my name, which just shows how much attention they pay to their fans.

The Cardiff show was incredible, it was the best show of the tour for me, it had such an incredible energy and combined with it being in a place that makes me so happy and seeing a band that already mean so much to me, it  made the 4am train back to Manchester before college worth it.

I got to hang out with them after the Cardiff  show as well, they invited us to Urban Taphouse, which I misheard as ‘Urban Tapas’. I thought we were going for tapas with The Hearts but then we walked into this bar! I was so confused!  I don’t think I’ll ever live that down.”


“I can’t wait to see them again, for them to be such a small band but have such huge potential to become such a big band really excites me”

Camm isn’t the only fan who has high hopes for The Hearts, back in Cardiff, their local fanbase, who get to see them perform quite regularly, are all thinking the same thing “How are these guys not huge yet and when is it finally going to happen?”. Of course, The Hearts will be coy about it and say it doesn’t matter how big the venues are or how many records they sell; either their modesty is their downfall or they’re just trying to play it cool (probably the latter), but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?


Name: Ria

Shows: Cardiff 

“The Hearts are the sort of band who get better every time they play and impress you more and more each time. My hopes for them are that they move on to playing bigger crowds. I go to a lot of local shows and it would be nice to see a band like The Hearts breakthrough”

Cardiff  → Swansea

The Welsh cheer-leading for The Hearts is not just the sport of the surrounding areas of their hometown, Newport, but is practiced across South Wales. After the highs of the Cardiff show, The Hearts headed over to Swansea for a cool-down before their London show, which is always an important date for a touring band. Sadly, I wouldn’t be tagging along for that one, meaning Swansea would be my final round.

Sin City drew in a low-key crowd, they were small, but they were mostly people who had seen The Hearts before and had come back for more, which is always a good sign, some of the crowd had even made the trip despite seeing them only the night before in Cardiff.


Name: Sophie

Shows: Cardiff, Swansea 

“I’ve seen The Hearts five times now, including Cardiff and Swansea on this tour. I go to a lot of local shows but the first time I heard The Hearts, something about their music stood out against the rest. I was instantly intrigued by their band, it usually takes a while to warm up to local bands, but with The Hearts, I instantly wanted to hear more.

I love listening to their music and they sound even better live, so whenever they announce a show nearby I’m excited to go see them again and again because they put on such a great set. It would be great to see them playing larger venues locally soon.”

Though The Hearts’ fans may be low in number right now, they are undoubtedly high in dedication and their sincere belief in The Hearts’ undeniable talent and potential. I can’t imagine the fanbase will remain this tight-knit for much longer, all it takes, it seems is for people who have heard the name to come and see what all the fuss is about.


Name: Kelly

Shows: Swansea

“I didn’t really understand what was so special about The Hearts until I saw them play live, I’ve seen them twice now. The first time I saw them walk on stage, they floored me. I was overwhelmed with belief that ‘this band will go far’. I felt like watching them in Le Pub was watching them write a part of their history that ‘the luck fans who were there’ will talk about ten years from now. They just fit together perfectly as a band, they even look like they should be on a huge stage.”

“I hope to one day see The Hearts play to an audience of thousands. I hope they will captivate the hearts of others in the same way they have my own and I believe they can achieve that. More importantly, I believe they deserve to.


→ ?

The Hearts, have, however, already stretched their legs on the big stage, after wrapping up their headline tour in London, they shot straight off to perform at Radio 1’s Big Weekend in Norwich and also went down a storm at this year’s T in The Park as well as a number of other festivals over the Summer months.

As I left Swansea for London, but not to see The Hearts, I found myself entertaining the idea of them playing bigger venues on their next tour, especially following the whispers of a debut album next year…  It sounds ludicrous, because they hadn’t sold out a single date on their tour of small capacity venues that month. But when you can so vividly picture a band on stage playing to thousands, and hear the songs you’ve come to love being chanted back by huge audiences so clearly, it’s more difficult to imagine the world’s stage without The Hearts playing a leading role.

I’d grown so used to seeing The Hearts over the last couple of weeks, that I had to keep reminding myself on the way to London that I wasn’t actually going to see them that night, even though they were playing the same city. I was heading to a huge academy for a sold-out show, whilst The Hearts played a pub on the other side of London.

And although I knew it wasn’t true just yet, as I walked into the academy and heard the masses cheer as the lights went down, when I looked up towards the stage, I almost-more-than-half-expecting to see white jeans.





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