Sorry released their second album Anywhere But Here last month. The sequel to their playful 2020 debut 925, it consists of 13 heart-wrenchingly sincere tracks, each grappling with themes of isolation, lost love, and death.
The day after Halloween, Sorry brought their new material to White Hotel in Salford. They played an impressively lengthy set that lasted over an hour and included songs from both albums, as well as from their EP Twixtustwain, released last year. Warming up the stage for Sorry were Teeth Machine, a new London band whose nineties-inspired instrumentals and haunting vocals set the tone for the rest of the night.
Sorry’s set began with Anywhere But Here‘s album opener ‘Let The Lights On’, a snappy and energetic track that immediately filled the venue with a buzz, as if someone had flicked the switch on an electric current. Lead singer Asha Lorenz, clad in a black Kappa tracksuit with her hood pulled tight around her face, appeared like a deer in the headlights as she surveyed the throbbing crowd before her. But despite her ostensible timidity, she played each song with the ease of a well-seasoned performer, and she barely even needed to open her mouth for surprisingly resonant, emotionally-charged notes to come flowing out.
‘Right Round The Clock’, the first song on 925, came next. It is always tricky for a band to tour their brand new album, because many fans make it obvious when they are only there to hear the older material. Sorry were clearly aware of the challenge of playing new songs, and had carefully crafted the setlist so that it moved deftly between their older and more recent work.
The set then continued with ‘Willow Tree’, ‘There’s So Many People That Want To Be Loved’, and ‘Key To The City’ from Anywhere But Here, and Asha relaxed into the performance, taking her hood down and visibly dropping her guard. She spat out the lyrics to each song with such intense passion that you couldn’t help being drawn into her musical world: a world of seedy nightclubs and love affairs in darkened cinemas, of lonely figures walking their dogs in cemeteries.
Guitarist Louis O’Bryen invited both singers from Teeth Machine onstage for ‘I Miss The Fool’, and they provided soft, ghostly harmonies as Asha vulnerably admitted to the hushed audience: “I miss the fool that I loved / I just wanna laugh but I can’t”. This is a side to Sorry that we have rarely glimpsed before; their debut was coated in a thick, comfortable layer of irony and humour that, over the course of the last two years, has been eroded by life’s hard blows.
Heartbreaks, mental health issues, the suffocating experience of living in London as a young musician – the band have poured their innermost anxieties into this new material. Watching them play it live seemed almost invasive, as if each member were reliving the pain that had gone into making the album.
The set built in energy as it progressed, the atmosphere becoming noticeably more electric. ‘More’ and ‘Baltimore’ gave the crowd a chance to shake off the emotional weight of the previous tracks, while the upbeat ‘Cigarette Packet’ and ‘Starstruck’ got everyone properly dancing. Drummer Lincoln Barrett threw his entire body into his kit with a look of furious concentration on his face, his cymbals combining with strobe lighting to create a cacophonous, disorientating thunderstorm inside the venue.
Sorry played ‘Again’, the new record’s poignant final song, and disappeared behind the curtain for a moment, giving fans a chance to pounce on the setlists that the band had left behind (with one girl even clambering fully onstage to retrieve the last one).
But the night wasn’t over just yet. Sorry returned to the stage for an encore, playing one of 925‘s standout songs ‘As The Sun Sets’ before ending on ‘Closer’, arguably the most honest, emotive song on the new album. “I never wanted to be that guy / I never thought I could be that guy”, Asha sang, a note of self-loathing and regret in her fragile voice, and the band launched into one last cathartic wig-out before leaving the stage for good.
Anywhere But Here is out now on Domino Records, and you can stream it below: