Will Waterhouse reviews Luna Blue Live at 33 Oldham Street
One of my favourite places in Manchester, 33 Oldham street welcomed Luna Blue supporting All Now thanks to Scruff of the Neck. Having interviewed the band on zoom a few days prior, they were as fun and welcoming in person as I had hoped. As Luna Blue were the opener for the evening I feared there would be less of a crowd than they hoped, but naturally the place became busier and 33 enjoyed their six-track set.
‘Who wants an egg shaker!?’
Luna Blue kicked off with ‘Tropical’, a great opening song which introduced and encompassed the general feel-good beach-bound aura of the band. It’s worth saying that their live performances more than do justice to their studio recordings. The band did a good job at getting the crowd involved as they had promised in my interview. Halfway through the set, Nick the bassist exclaimed ‘Who wants an egg shaker!?’. I was thrown the first egg shaker and ducked after a few others were chucked about. Very fun idea and it got people moving. It was no Jacob Collier crowd, but they had good rhythm.
During the bridge of their song ‘Look at me’, frontman Tom got the crowd to get down and jump up at the final chorus. Despite a smaller crowd than hoped it still came off well, but not as well as it might have at a home crowd in Brighton, I’m sure. But then again they’re only supporting. Seeing Luna Blue live when they are the main event could only be more rewarding and energetic.
Hearing their newest release, ‘Lou Lou’ was fantastic. Ryan’s guitar riffs during the chorus give the track its catchiness and satisfaction. It looked like Luna Blue really enjoyed playing it and the egg shakers of 33 Oldham St kept shaking. ‘Lou Lou’ went down really well and translated from studio to live set perfectly.
All four of the guys were fantastic performers. Nick the bassist was consistently dancing throughout the set (watch out Dua Lipa!). Drummer Seb was able to do justice to the punchy drums in their recordings; some of his fills were superb and his skill was a particular highlight. Tom’s vocals have so much strength and yet seem effortless. He smashes the middle of the note like a musical theatre vocalist but with riffing nuances like a jazz singer. This, combined with his pure depth of tone, makes him an ergonomically engaging front man. Tom told me afterwards that he teaches vocal technique… of course he does. Lead guitarist Ryan surprised me – he was cool and nonchalant throughout the set but came out with one of the cleanest most skilful and well balanced guitar solos I’ve heard live.
Ryan’s solo came at the end of the closing song ‘How Does It Feel’. For me this was the highlight of the entire gig (apart from catching an egg shaker like Ben Stokes). Seb’s drums were explosive and make you wish you were a drummer. Tom’s vocals, especially during the chorus, make you want to scream the words. Nick’s bass line dances as much as he does and Ryan’s guitar solo would make guitar players say ‘why do I even try’. A great way to end a set. This is definitely a band that deserve a following up North and one that I hope to see during festival season.