If you haven’t heard of The Lightning Seeds, then you’ve still heard their biggest hit. ‘Three Lions’ entered into the nation’s heart in 1996, and chants of “It’s coming home, it’s coming, football’s coming home” still ring in the ears of football fans every time there’s a match on.
November in Manchester is almost embarrassingly on brand: rainy, dull, and a blanket of grey. Forget the usual tonics to seasonal depression: The Lightning Seeds are here! On Saturday, they took to Albert Hall to deliver a resplendent set of hit after hit that was so livened with feeling and energy, it felt like a chorus of vitamin C tablets fizzing in your throat.
They weren’t alone either, joined by Badly Drawn Boy in an oversized beanie, as support. It’s sometimes frustrating when an artist is only referenced by ‘that big thing’ they did 20 years ago. In Badly Drawn Boy’s case, it not only makes sense but he leans into it. About a Boy, the finest Hugh Grant film ever made, also happens to have the finest film soundtrack ever made. Badly Drawn Boy played a chocolate box selection of the soundtrack, which contains beautiful songs such as ‘Silent Sigh’ and ‘Something to Talk About’.
He also played fan favourites ‘You Were Right’ and ‘Once Around the Block.’ This was clearly a personal performance, in part a tribute to his brother who sadly passed away last year. Both his parents and wife were in attendance, making for an emotional show. Unfortunately, issues with the sound plagued a visibly frustrated Damon Michael Gough, who repeatedly told us “I can’t hear anything.”
Once sound issues were resolved, The Lightning Seeds took to the stage. Beginning with their latest single ‘Sunshine’, they smashed through a set that took us through their much-loved back catalogue, a few covers, and a couple of surprisingly sublime new songs – surprising only because the new songs of bands of a certain age, are rarely received as warmly by the crowd.
There’s no over-stating the warmth of this crowd: even Ian Broudie seems overwhelmed by the affection of the crowd. Their new album See You in the Stars, for better or for worse, is sonically cohesive with their last 30 years of work. ‘Emily Smiles’ and the uncloying – despite its name – ‘Great to be Alive’, were great additions to the set.
Broudie’s stage presence was dynamic, joyous and just the right side of frenetic, frequently jumping up and across the stage. The hits, ‘The Life of Riley’, ‘Pure’, ‘Lucky You’, and ‘You Showed Me’, were performed as if they were written yesterday. Listening to The Lightning Seeds on Spotify just doesn’t do them justice, they’re a band to be seen live, where the energy and pure pump of their clattering, dizzying music can be heard at its best. The Albert Hall added to the transcendence at play here, as beams of light collided over the crowd. As for the rest of the band, they were on excellent form, particularly Adele Emmas on harmonies and keyboard. Broudie’s son, the eponymous Riley of ‘The Life of-‘, also gave his all.
Most notable was the unrelenting, exhilarating, never-too-earnest optimism of their lyrics. Their encore brought a cover of ‘Be My Baby’ which Broudie dubbed “The best song ever written”, and ‘Marvellous’, which is also a pretty excellent song. “Things could be marvellous/ Things could be fabulous/ Soon”, Broudie sings. And you believe it.
During this highly controversial world cup season and coming on the heels of a fantastic summer for England women, fans still cherish the image of the plucky underdog that The Lightning Seeds’ song dreams up. You might think the band would be sick of hearing about their 90s hit, considering they’ve got a pretty impressive and extensive back-catalogue, but if they are it doesn’t show. ‘Three Lions’, as an encore, brings the house down. Broudie seems to burst with genuine appreciation for the crowd. The band leave. The crowd keep singing. All is well.
You can keep up with the latest news from The Lightning Seeds on their official website here.