Pond’s performance at Club Academy had been anticipated greatly by those who were let down by the cancellation of their gig earlier in the week.
The reschedule left many frustrated, with fans commenting on the band’s Instagram declaring that they had flown in and booked hotel rooms in order to attend. Despite enduring what lead singer, Nick Allbrook, describes as “6-hour bonding session on the side of the motorway” when their van broke down in Scotland earlier in the week, Pond pushed back their flights to Australia in order to perform their last gig of the year in Manchester.
The gig took place a day before the release of Pond’s first live album, Sessions, on the 8th November, which showcases grittier vocals from Allbrook and a more electrified and commanding sound than offered in the rest of their discography. This album definitely encapsulates what it’s like to see the band live as they abandon the hypnotic nature of their music to rouse the crowd with a more energetic performance than expected.
The bulk of the setlist was made up of songs from Tasmania. This album tackles working-class identity, climate change and the refugee crisis. The media have responded to Pond’s politically conscious lyrics with a certain degree of surprise, with the generalisation of the band as passive psych-rockers suddenly becoming redundant. Despite the shock surrounding this lyrical maturity, Pond have managed to make an earnest and humble move into music, with their track ‘Hand Mouth Dancer’ declaring the message: “I didn’t get political, I just faced the facts.”
Allbrook is the most charismatic lead singer I have seen to date. He treats the stage and crowd as his domain, jumping between them as he pleases. In my opinion, he was the sole reason that the crowd warmed up throughout the gig, taking crowd interaction to the extreme by spending at least half the gig amongst it. A drawback of the reschedule meant that less people attended, so much so, that the gig was moved from Academy 2 to the smaller Club Academy. This was perhaps why the crowd was slightly sheepish to begin with. To dedicated fans, this setting was probably preferred as it was a way to see a band on the verge of massive international success in a more intimate venue.
Allbrook’s dance moves were Jagger-esque and executed with reckless abandon. However, this enthusiasm for performing sometimes takes away from his vocals, notably in ‘Sweep Me Off My Feet’ where he was unable to reach the high notes. Although, with the band being such great performers, the crowd certainly didn’t mind the less-than-perfect pitch.
However, Allbrook’s claim that the show “[felt] really special” doesn’t quite resonate. It seems he’s basking in the euphoric feeling of performing for the last time in a while and seeing the gig through rose-tinted glasses.