This is believed to be the final photograph of the members of Viola Beach, who died when their car plunged more than 82ft from a highway bridge into a canal south of Stockholm on Saturday.
Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin and their manager Craig Tarry, all aged between 20 and 33, died just hours after playing their first ever gig outside of the UK.
They can be seen joking around in their dressing room at the venue in Norrkoping, Sweden, in a snap taken by a fellow musician, who today praised the up-and-coming band from Warrington, Cheshire.
Fatal: The band, from Warrington, Cheshire, and their manager died after their car drove through a safety barrier while the bridge was open to let a vessel pass underneath, and plunged 82feet into the canal below
John Olsson, member of Swedish punk band Psykofant, took the last known picture of Viola Beach, after seeing them take the stage in Norrkoping.
‘I remember standing in the audience thinking “these guys really have the potential to become huge”,’ Mr Ohlsson, 22, told MailOnline.
‘And I thought that it is going to be a cool thing to be able to say, in the future, that I was hanging with Viola Beach in a dressing room in Norrkoping before their first gig outside Great Britain.
‘They were incredibly good live and amazingly skilled musicians, but probably even nicer people. We shared a dressing room and my band had just finished out gig, and then they stumbled in with their amazingly charming accents. They reminded me of The Beatles in Hard Day’s Night – kind of charmingly clumsy.
‘We were heading back home to Stockholm after their gig so I walked past the drummer and said thank you for a great show, and joked that if I was ever in the Manchester area I’d give him a shout.’
Mr Olsson added: ‘He got so happy and said “oh yeah, give me a call, you’ll have a place to stay” and we hugged and me and my band went home.
‘We actually drove back the same way, just one hour earlier, over the same bridge.’
The family of Kristian Leonard said ‘words cannot express the sadness we feel’ in a statement issued by police.
Psykofant also put a statement on their Facebook page: ‘We have no words and are still trying to grasp that this has really happened.
‘Viola Beach, Chris, Thomas, Jack, River and their manager Craig, have all passed away. After we had got off stage and sat back down in the dressing room we were met by a bunch of British lads who were pushed into the room by their manager, one by one.
‘It was such a comical situation, and they kept joking that they played death metal, taught us how to pronounce British sayings, we taught them Swedish sayings and tried to explain what [popular Swedish TV show] On The Right Track was.
‘Later on that night, they took to the same stage we had just walked off to do their first gig abroad. Something which ought to have been the start of their journey instead became the last gig the band ever plaid.
‘We all fell in love with them straight away. This is not fair. We mourn for them, for their families, friend and loved ones back home in Britain. It was an honour to play with them and it is a memory we will carry with us for the rest of out lives. We will never forget you.
‘Rest in Peace, Viola Beach.’
The band and their manager died after their black Nissan Qashqai smashed into a road barrier at the bridge over the Sodertalje canal, south of the Swedish capital, just after 2am local time on Saturday.
The bridge was closing after it had been opened to let a vessel sail through, and the group and their manager plunged 82ft in the canal below.
The bridge, at the Saltskogs junction between the E4 and the E20 motorways, has a middle section that rises directly upwards without tilting, leaving a gap that the car drove into.
Just hours before the deadly incident, Viola Beach had played in at the Where’s The Music festival in Norrköping – their first ever gig outside of the UK
Witness Jonny Alexandersson told Aftonbladet: ‘Suddenly there’s a car that pushes past and drives live a maniac. It drives down the left side in towards the barrier. It was driving at least 70-80km/h (45-50mph).
‘That’s very fast when the rest of us are standing still. He caught the rear-view mirror on a taxi.’
Swedish police have said there were no faults with the bridge’s system, its warning lamps were flashing, there are several signs warning there is a bridge opening, and two barriers were blocking the road.
Inspector Martin Bergholm said: ‘For some reason, the car drove through the barriers and crashed down into the canal.’
Drivers of other cars were waiting behind the barrier but it is not yet known whether a boat had already passed or was waiting to pass.
He added: ‘The witnesses just saw a car beside them and kind of disappear.’
Mr Bergholm said it was not yet known whether the five men, aged 20-35, were wearing seatbelts but added: ‘That would not have helped them.’
Police received a call at about 2.30am and were first to arrive on the scene, a ‘maximum five minutes’ later.
A Foreign Office spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that five British Nationals died in a car accident in Sweden on 13 February.
‘We are in contact with local authorities and supporting the families at this difficult time.’
On Sunday, the families of the young men paid tribute to their loved ones, with River Reeves’ family speaking of their devastation.
‘We are all heartbroken following River’s tragic death and the circumstances which have seen him lose his life alongside the band-mates and manager he adored and loved being with,’ the family said in a statement.
‘Viola Beach were on such an exciting journey and River could not have been happier. He would have loved to have stuck around for the party.
‘All River wanted to do was perform and entertain and to think that he will never make us laugh again with his ridiculous impressions and cheeky banter is beyond comprehension for all his family.
‘River had such talent and such humility, such charm and such innocence it seems so unfair that he can be taken so cruelly from us like this.
‘We are so proud of him, not only for what he achieved in his short, beautiful life, but also what he was clearly destined to achieve. He will live forever in our hearts and we hope the band’s wonderful music lives on.’
The parents of the band’s manager Craig Tarry also honoured their son in a statement on Sunday afternoon.
‘Craig was a warm, loving person who had worked tirelessly to achieve success and follow his dreams within the music industry. He will be sadly missed by his family and his colleagues.
‘The family are devastated by these events and are grieving the loss of their son and also for the other families involved in this tragic accident.’
Just hours before the deadly incident, Viola Beach had played in at the Where’s The Music festival in Norrköping.
‘It was actually the first time they played outside Great Britain. They were so stoked,’ Folkert Koopmans, CEO of festival organisers FKP Scorpio told Aftonbladet.
‘My thoughts are with their family and friends.’
Viola Beach had been on the verge of breaking into the mainstream music scene with a recent appearance for emerging artists on BBC Introducing
Tributes: Fans of the band have taken to Twitter to express their sadness after the tragic news
In memoriam: Singer-songwriter James Walsh also paid tribute to the bandmembers and their manager
Honouring: BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens was also among the many supporters of the band
Viola Beach had been on the verge of breaking into the mainstream music scene with a recent appearance for emerging artists on BBC Introducing.
The up-and-coming indie pop band were playing a gig in Sweden, but were just weeks away from playing a homecoming gig at Warrington’s at the Pyramid on March 12.
The group had also announced plans to play their biggest home town show at Warrington’s Parr Hall on October 1.
They were due to play at the Boiler Room in Guildford, in Surrey, on Saturday night with fellow band Blossoms, but the gig was subsequently cancelled.
Kris, aged 19, explained last year how he formed Viola Beach with drummer Jack Dakin after bumping into him at Warrington bus station.
The pair both went to Bradshaw Primary School, in Grappenhall, Cheshire, but had lost touch with each other.
Kris had already met guitarist River Reeves on a music course at Priestley College and met bassist Tom at Warrington bar ‘The Lounge’.
The Lounge was also where the band played their warm up show before making their debut at Liverpool’s legendary Cavern Club on July 15.
Kris, said: ‘To play in this historic venue in front of all these industry people was a wake-up call.
‘We had someone there from SJM Concerts who are now promoting our shows for us.’
Viola Beach have also had airplay from Huw Stephens on Radio 1, Steve Lamacq from 6 Music and Jo Good at XFM.
The band’s last post on Facebook was on February 2nd, when they excitedly wrote about playing a huge gig in the USA next month – as they started to break into America.
Communion Records praised the band as ‘a truly great team of young men’ who were ‘about to take on the world together’.
The company has said all proceeds made from the band’s second single ‘Boys That Sing’, which was released on January 22, will be donated to the families of the band and their manager Craig Tandy.
In a statement the label said: ‘Viola Beach had only recently come into the Communion family, and had everything going for them – great songs, passion, talent, drive – everything that a band should have.
‘To sit down with the band was to sit down with a group of guys whose band you wanted to be in, and to be in the presence of a band who knew just what it would take to make it.
‘This is why the band had been in Sweden, rather than sit back and wait for it to happen to them, Kris, River, Jack and Tom were determined to go out into the world and play every show they could until the world was singing along with them, and now that dream has been sadly taken away from all of us.
‘Equally, Craig, their manager was possessed by a passion to help the band achieve everything they wanted to, and to speak with Craig about Viola Beach, and music in general was an absolute pleasure – you knew he was doing it all for the right reasons.
‘Everyone here at Communion is in a state of total shock and sorrow, and our thoughts go out to the families and friends of Craig and the band.’
They posted: ‘Very excited to announce we’ve been invited by to play BBC Introducing and PRS for Music Foundation’s showcase at SXSW Music Festival in Austin Texas at Latitude 30 on Wednesday 16th March!!’
Viola Beach have become one of the fastest growing bands on the music scene after frontman and former cleaner Kris Leonard sent a track to BBC Introducing.
The four-piece have gone on to tour with the Courteeners and work with Communion Records founder and Mumford and Sons producer Ian Grimble.
Mr Grimble said: ‘I first became aware of Viola Beach through their single “Swings & Waterslides” and was very taken by the energy and vibrancy that jumped out of the speakers.
‘Upon meeting them for the first time, along with Craig their manager, I could soon see why, their exuberance and determination to scream out to the world was overwhelming.
‘This combined with undoubted talent and an incredible work ethic for ones so young made every long hour in the studio from then on very rewarding indeed.
‘It is with great sadness that we will not be able to see them grow from the spark that they are now, into the raging fire that they so desperately desired to become.
‘They were a young band who wrote about what they knew, a legacy for new young bands I hope.’
Mark Bennett, a colleague of Craig Tarry at United Talent agency, said: ‘From your first gig to your last and many in between I was so lucky to be there and I will be forever grateful for you lightning up my life with your infectious, beautiful and joyful behaviour.
‘Craig Tarry could be seen at every gig, head bobbing and just simply and purely loving the music.
‘I must of called him more than anyone in the last six months, even Thursday we must of spoke eight or nine times. You started as a colleague and you ended as a good mate. I will miss you dearly.”
Kris, a former Lymm High School pupil, in Cheshire, said at the time of the announcement: ‘We’re very honoured to be announcing a show at the Parr Hall as our second hometown show.’
Today, tributes have been flooding in on Twitter for the four-piece band.
‘Ghost of the Astoria’ wrote: ‘Very sad news about the guys from Viola Beach – Bright young Warrington band, looked like they were going to go big. RIP lads x.’
Ryan Wilford penned: ‘Such a shame about Viola Beach, such a loss for Warrington and the music world! Life is so cruel!’
Aaron Flanagan said: ‘Desperately sad news about Viola Beach.
‘Talented musicians and their friends only spoke highly of them. Major loss for Warrington. RIP.’
‘Man and The Echo’ tweeted: ‘Just heard horrendous news about @Viola-Beach.
‘Fellow Warrington lads, they rehearsed next door to us. Our thoughts are with their families.
‘Lost for words. RIP Viola Beach. Hits home. #Warrington.’
Hayley Smith added: ‘Absolutely devastating news about #Warrington band @Viola-Beach being reported this morning.’