From Reeling to The Ronettes, The Mysterines show their quality at Band On The Wall
By Alex Cooper
Merseyside four-piece The Mysterines came to the recently redeveloped Band On The Wall and revealed they have much to offer the indie rock scene – which is perhaps not a revelation at all.
On an unseasonably cold Wednesday night, my good friend Callum and I made the trip to Northern Quarter’s Band On The Wall to see The Mysterines at the height of their powers. Having recently reopened, it was not a venue I’d been to before. I was impressed by the space and grateful that a venue with such heritage to the Manchester scene is back open to the public.
The Mysterines are embarking on a national headline tour in support of their debut album, Reeling. They previously supported The Amazons and Royal Blood, and will be a presence at this summer’s festivals, billed at 110 Above and Y Not. I reviewed the album for The Mancunion, and you can read it here!
Callum and I assumed our positions on the balcony for the support acts. First up were London-based duo fräulein, coming on shortly after doors with a sparse audience. Drummer Karstel van der Tol set up in the centre, as vocalist Joni Samuels stood left of the stage and delivered an excellent vocal performance. Between the two members, they were able to create a compelling and distinctive sound. This is no mean feat, especially over the general hum of the crowd as is common during support. There was a little bit of banter between songs; it wasn’t all audible, but still endearing for a band that is relatively new. Samuels later played a role in the highlight of the gig for me (more on that later). fräulein play Night and Day Cafe on 15 April, with tickets available via their website.
Shortly after, Isle Of Wight indie outfit Coach Party came straight out of the blocks with their March single ‘Weird Me Out.’ As an Isle Of Wight native myself, I’ve known about Coach Party for a while, and know that they put on a good show. Immediately after the first song, lead singer Jess Eastwood shared with the now packed-out crowd that she was processing a fresh bathroom-based incident. This was something that she continued to process in real-time, which I think oddly added to the warmth of the performance. As she said, “oversharing is caring.” Coach Party straddles genre lines between 2000s indie and pop-punk, and they were so much fun. Their lyrics are cutting and witty, and in places anthemic, and every member contributes to a very polished sound. The song ‘Breakdown’ literally broke down musically, which was extremely satisfying to see. It’s no hot take – they’ve been revered by many publications for a while – but watch out for Coach Party. Their set didn’t feel like a support act, and soon they won’t be. Their latest single, ‘Nothing Is Real’, is out now.
Already satisfied with the evening, we moved downstairs to get in amongst it for the headliners. A between set playlist of Fatboy Slim and Echo and The Bunnymen got everyone locked in. After a lengthy intro, the band assumed their positions to take us home.
The Mysterines opened with ‘The Bad Thing’, which lead singer Lia Metcalfe has described as the most fun to play live. She held a pensive look as she sang, displaying from the outset her incredible vocal range. The two-paced single was an ideal way to open, building in intensity as it progressed. After a few songs a man behind me stated, almost into the ether, “that was fucking incredible”, and it was hard to disagree. A band that has just released their debut carrying this much gravitas in a sold-out crowd is stuff that dreams are made of.
The gig stayed consistent in tone whilst varying from song to song, which mirrors their album, Reeling. From straight-up dark tunes, to Metcalfe laughing along with the lyrics to ‘Old Friends / Die Hard’, they carried the first half. The enthusiasm from the crowd waned in the second half of the set. The songs still sounded good, but were less varied and there was very little between-song talking/banter. ‘All These Things’ was an album highlight for me, and it sounded just as good live, but the crowd was not feeding off the energy at this point. The same can be said for the album opener ‘Life Is A Bitch (But I Like It So Much)’. It wasn’t the fault of the band that the crowd became flatter, and bassist George Favager worked to rectify this by hyping them up, albeit to mixed results.
The last song of the main set got off on a wrong footing when the band asked for all the lights down and instead got all the lights turned on. When they eventually came off I was distracted, and the dark album closer ‘The Confession Song’ didn’t pack as much of a punch as it might have. Nevertheless, the band completed their set and a murmur arose as groups began guessing how many songs the encore would be.
I guessed two, and we got three. After a short break, Metcalfe appeared back on stage brandishing an acoustic guitar to play the ballad ‘Still Call You Home’. This put the spotlight solely on her voice, which was as punchy as any instrument in the band. Expecting for the band to be called back, I was surprised to see Joni Samuels of fräulein return to assume the exact same position at the left of the stage she had taken up before. The two of them performed a wonderful duet of ‘Be My Baby’ by The Ronettes, alternating guitar parts and smiling lines back at one another. The audience latched on and sang in unison, but not over the duo. It was a truly wonderful, unexpected moment which gave me chills and galvanised the crowd for the final tune, ‘Hung Up.’ With this nuts and bolts rock song, the band played on the energy created in the room and ripped through it. It came to a close, and the band left the stage to huge applause.
As everyone filed out onto the cold streets of Manchester, I felt I’d had a great night watching a really excellent array of bands. None of the groups disappointed, and I’ll keep up with all their next movements. In some respects, it felt like a co-headline given how polished Coach Party was – so definitely watch out for them! For The Mysterines, it was a brilliant indie rock show which reinforced the quality of their debut album. While in places the crowd didn’t reciprocate the energy put out by the band, it was not indicative of the band’s calibre live. I can imagine that at festivals especially, the crowds will better match the music’s intensity. ‘Be My Baby’ was a complete curveball in The Mysterines’ set, but really tied everything together. It showed a different, more tender side to Metcalfe’s voice specifically, and the inclusion of Samuels from fräulein was a lovely touch. I enjoyed the gig immensely; if you can catch any of the bands, do it, as you won’t be disappointed.