Real Lies’ Manchester show fell both at the end of the first UK tour and on a Sunday night. They would be forgiven being completely burned-out shadows of their former selves. A slightly subdued set would even have been acceptable. But this isn’t how Real Lies play ball. The tour concluded the same week that they released their (brilliant) self-titled debut album, and they were determined to go out with a bang.
Despite the set being quite short in length, it proved ample time for Real Lies to demonstrate their exciting potential as well as the broad range of genres that feed into their music. Ska-infused opener ‘Dab Housing’ gets the crowds moving, as does follower ‘Seven Sisters’, with its beat borrowing heavily from modern dance music. ‘One Club Town’ sounded surprisingly good in a live setting, and while it’s impossible to separate its sound from influences like The Streets, it would be unfair to say that Real Lies are stuck in the past. Arguably, Real Lies are carving their own unique genre—post-rave. The spoken word on tracks like ‘Deeper’ and ‘North Circular’ perfectly encapsulate the drabness of a bus journey home after a night out, or the comedown at the end of big weekend. ‘North Circular’, the band’s first track to be released last year, proved to be the highlight of the night, its combination of spoken word over the thumping beat truly being an explosive combination. Once again, it’s hard to ignore similarities to groups such as New Order and the Pet Shop Boys, whether they were influences to the band or not.
Unfortunately the pint-sized choruses of ‘Lovers Lane’ failed to make an impact, which was a shame. While this is partly due to the off-key singing of the guitarist, I think that the intimate size of the crowd certainly can’t have helped. The absence of ‘Gospel’, a late gem in the album featuring an awesome ravey vocal sample, was also disappointing. Apart from this omission, the tracks sounded amazing, and it is great to see a new band so polished at such an early stage.
While closing track ‘Sidetripping’ works as an album closer, it doesn’t work so well live, leaving the night on a slightly bum note. However, the band had spontaneously decided to play it after calls from the crowd to carry the gig on, so this can perhaps be forgiven. On this note, the crowd on the night were excellent, their reaction to each track creating a euphoric atmosphere that clearly energised the band and repressed their self-confessed hangovers. In addition to the music, the creative set up of the gig saw the band playing against a projected backdrop of gritty footage of London, which created a really cool atmosphere visually as well as sonically. The slightly tatty basement of venue Soup Kitchen proved to be perfect for Real Lies’ gritty sound. With Manchester’s heritage and current position as the dance music Mecca of the UK, we can’t help but feel Real Lies may have found their spiritual home.