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Photo: Joseph Bateman

Palace: A new-found maturity

On the 7th of November, Palace transformed a stark and utilitarian Academy 2 venue into a reverb-drenched world of soaring melodies and heart-wrenching stories.

The band effortlessly wove together light and shade, including old favourite ‘Veins’ (other bands would be hard pressed to top a B-side of this calibre) and new ballad ‘All In My Stride’, summed up perfectly in the snippet of conversation we overheard during the performance: ‘I had sex to this song’.

The band had no need for frills or special effects. Although Leo Wyndham (the enigmatic yet chilled frontman of the band) let slip the odd smirk, knowing how good a performance he was giving, the band remained relatively down-to-earth. “This would usually be the bit where we do an encore … but I think we’re just going to carry on playing,” he stated in the same manner as he said “excuse me mate” walking past us in the queue.

Leo had every right to be proud of his performance — not many people can claim to sing in a voice as smooth and sweet as his, while laying down bluesy lead guitar.  My only criticism would be the lack of charisma shown by Leo’s bandmates, though this being said, their laid-back attitude did serve the mood, and Leo was perfectly capable of being the centre of attention. He made effectively doubling as frontman and lead guitarist seem effortless.

The setlist selection was strong, front-loading new tracks before inserting old favourites like ‘It’s Over’, to build to a stellar finale with ‘Bitter’.  Introduced as the first song they wrote together, it crescendos into an incredibly uplifting jam, where the band’s love for what they do is most visible. The stand-out song, however, was undoubtedly the lead single off the latest album Life After.

‘Heaven Up There’ is certainly a departure from the summery, bluesy feel of the first album, and represents an incredibly encouraging shift to more mature music and lyrics. As the tune grows blissfully on stage, and a cacophony of lights reveals an audience in pure admiration, it is impossible not to be captivated.

The end of the show made clear that Palace are on their way to amassing a serious fanbase.  If a band can hold an audience for an entire set, in spite of minimal on-stage antics, still leaving you beaming come curtain-close, then they’re one to keep on your radar.

The final praise for this amazing band is simply how down-to-earth they not only appear on stage, but truly are in person. After the show they made an appearance in Big Hands, happy to meet each and every fan. It’s actions like this that keep audiences rooting for Palace.

If all shows on the Life After tour follow this Thursday night masterclass, then I urge you to join them as they elevate each city’s audience, ever so briefly, into a wondrous state of blissful ecstasy.

9/10.

Tags: alt rock, blues, blues rock, Manchester Academy, palace, Rock

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