“The weekend starts now!” announces The Reverend on stage at Manchester Academy, and for the hundreds of people in Academy One, it certainly did! Boisterous and lively indie rock band Reverend and the Makers performed one hell of a gig for us lucky few ahead of their latest album release: Heatwave In the Cold North.
Not only did I enjoy a great night of live music, but I also had the honour of interviewing Jon McClure aka The Reverend himself. If you’re a fan of indie rock and are looking for some new music to sink your teeth into then you should definitely give them a listen.
My night began on the upstairs balcony of Manchester Academy while I spoke to The Reverend and wife Laura McClure about the band. They were both very down to earth and a real laugh to talk to which meant I was off to a good start!
Although performing back home in Sheffield is his favourite, he said he loved Manchester because “they’re always up for it” and I was soon to find out that this is most certainly true. The atmosphere at the concert was electric and high energy, mostly thanks to The Reverend telling everyone to “bounce” and get their “knees up” as we jumped and dance to “banger after banger after banger”.
I asked The Reverend what he was most proud of and he said simply “longevity”. Having been around since 2005 and produced nine albums including side projects, this is both understandable and impressive. We all know that the North is famed for its music scene with huge bands like Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys making a big break hard to come by.
Perhaps more so for The Reverend who lived with none other than the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and so spent a fair amount of time being known as “Alex Turner’s best mate”. However once their debut album The State of Things was released, they were well on their way to making a name for themselves on the indie rock scene.
What stood out to me when interviewing The Reverend, was the inspiration behind his music, particularly since the band have produced such a wide range of songs. He said “everything I’ve ever done has always been based on reality” and “grounded in reality in some way”. The Reverend explained how it doesn’t matter to him where he gets his inspiration from as long as it’s real and that he’s “in control of [the] words”.
We spoke about Sheffield’s own music history and its traditions including the importance of lyrics. This focus certainly comes through in their songs such as in Heavyweight Champion of the World: “As the embers of romance/Pay two mortgages and leccy bills”. The Reverend somehow manages to successfully balance the gritty reality of life whilst still making it sound beautiful in some way.
The concert opened with The Reverend welcoming us to the “Rev army” and telling us that “we’re all together”, we’re “welcome here” and that “music’s for everyone” which felt genuine and set good vibes for the night. The band performed upbeat classics like ‘The State of Things’, ‘Shine the Light’, ‘Mr Glassalfempty’, and ‘MDMAZING’ which were simply incredible live. I found myself smiling throughout and bouncing along with everyone to the music even in my heeled boots!
As for the slower songs such as ‘No Soap (In a Dirty Way)’ and ‘Hard Time for Dreamers’ which The Reverend said was about his own insecurities, these had so much depth in the live performance. The lyrics grounded in reality that The Reverend spoke of in interview were hard to miss.
There was a real sense of camaraderie and fun on stage across the night. The Reverend fist-bumped his bandmates Laura McClure (keyboard), Ed Cosens (co-singer-songwriter and bass), Ryan Jenkinson (drums), and Antonia Pooles (bass) throughout and danced for the whole ninety minutes even when he was “sweating [his] tits off”! He hyped up Cosens when he took over vocals for ‘Auld Reekie Blues’ and asked the crowd to check out his bandmate’s own music. Overall, the atmosphere was fantastic and unlike any other gig I’ve been to and I think this can be largely attributed to The Reverend himself and his philosophy as a musician.
In our interview, he said how when he started out he of course wanted to be the “biggest” and “best” band, just thinking about a “smash and grab raid”. However now, as mentioned previously, he is most proud of the band’s longevity which I think comes from them making the people’s music or, as aptly put by the Reverend: “we’re not trendy, we’re f***ing brilliant”! I am extremely grateful for the chance to talk to Jon and Laura McClure about their band and to watch the gig live.
The single ‘Heatwave In the Cold North’ is available to stream now and their album is coming out at the end of April so look out for it!