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21st April 2023

Live review: Leith Ross @ The Deaf Institute

After going viral with hit song ‘We’ll Never Have Sex’, Leith Ross embarked on their UK tour with a stop at Manchester’s Deaf Institute.
Live review: Leith Ross @ The Deaf Institute
Photo: Leith Ross via ChuffMedia

Leith Ross fostered a ‘wonderfully human evening’, in their own words, at The Deaf Institute on Sunday. It’s rare for a gig to feel like a truly safe space even when the main act actively checks on the audience. Yet, this almost felt like being at a summer camp talent show amongst people you’d known for weeks. Leith and their band bridged that all too familiar gap between the main act and the crowd, really creating a sense of quiet togetherness throughout their slower and intimate songs.

Opening the night was a close friend of Leith’s, Philip Brooks. Their more upbeat songs ‘spend some time inside my head’ and ‘honey let’s just drive’ had that coming-of-age soundtrack feel about them. Almost as if boy pablo met Her’s with a bit more of a Gen Z feel about the lyrics.

Philip had some slower acoustic numbers with slightly more folky sounds. They consistently thanked the crowd for being so quiet and respectful. Becoming visibly more comfortable a few songs in, a crack about not being the brightest tool in the shed and originally thinking all the ‘I heart MCR posters’ here were about My Chemical Romance got a proper giggle from the crowd.

Leith was welcome with a huge cheer upon running onto the stage. Opening their gig by confessing they’d had three chamomile teas and felt a little bit wavy, the sort of chatty gratitude towards the crowd that Philip had established carried through Leith’s set.

The folky ballads were interspersed with nice little surprises for such a small gig. Leith made crowd members turn to somebody they didn’t know next to them and introduce themselves, handed over to one member of the band to sing their own song, and stopped the show when one crowd member wasn’t feeling too well.

The crowd sang along to the more upbeat songs like ‘I’d Have to Think About It’, giggling at the funnier lyrics with Leith, but adopted complete silence for slower more sentimental songs like ‘Orlando’ and ‘Tommy’. The band were particularly strong, with a well-received banjo moment from one of the guitarists for the songs with country undertones.

With regular shout-outs to the sound techs at The Deaf Institute and comments about how cool the venue was, Leith cracked jokes about their process before each song. They finished with their upbeat new release ‘(You) On My Arm’, a true bop amongst the crowd given an electric guitar was subbed in place of the banjo. Queerness and the welcoming nature of Manchester had been touched on throughout the night, with Leith joking that this song was undoubtedly their ‘gayest’ song.

Leith ended on a note of this being one of their favourite gigs to date, coming back on to perform their unreleased track ‘Grieving’ and have a long chat about the crowd coming together over common experiences. Closing with the viral ‘We’ll Never Have Sex’, Leith acknowledged this was the song we’d probably all come to see.

A markedly warm and safe gig, Leith Ross felt like more of a friend than a headliner by the end of the show. Given they responded with an ‘I love you too’ to my best friend’s ‘I love you, Leith’ heckle, it seems Leith feels the same.

Philip Ross’ EP comes out 30th June…


Libby Elliott

Libby Elliott

Editor-in-Chief 2023-24 | Awarded Outstanding Contribution to The Mancunion and Fuse TV Presenter of the Year at the 2023 MMG Awards | Former Co-Investigations Editor | Shortlisted for the SPA2022 Rising Star Award |

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