Written by Dani Dodman
A staple band of England’s early-2000s indie-rock scene, Razorlight’s energy and passion remain infectious – as proven by their performance at Manchester’s Albert Hall on the 20th.
Starting with a support act that has been dubbed ‘Nu Madchester’, the bucket-hat-donning, and Spike Island T-shirt-wearing Affleck’s Palace, was crowd-pleasing at its finest; engaging the audience in a sing-a-long of a cover of The Smiths’ ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’, and raising anticipation for the headline act. They seemed to be taking inspiration from bands like Oasis and The Stone Roses, their own songs seeming good fun for the crowd and fitting for the indie genre (think of bands like DMA’s and The Skinner Brothers). The crowd was on top form from the beginning and throughout; with plastic-contained beers flowing and arms-in-the-air, scream-singing filling the hall. We were the youngest in the room by a considerable way, giving it a warm, singing-in-the-kitchen-with-your-family vibe that only added to the experience.
Johnny Borrell & co. took to the stage soon after, with shirts loud enough and hair wild enough to make anyone nostalgic for the early noughties, even if, at that point, you were too young to have been involved in the scene any more than hearing the songs on the radio in the back of your mum’s car, or in various British sitcoms. Playing an equal mix of songs that you know and songs that you don’t know you know, Borrell proves his ever-present strength as a frontman; flying around the stage with his guitar while he belts out your favourites, his voice maintaining that well-loved 2000s indie twang.
Hearing the opening chords to the final encore song of the night – ‘America’, whose lyrics remain eerily relevant today – was by far my favourite moment of the night; friends gave each other a knowing look that meant this was ‘their song’, and thoughtfully reminisced on times they’d sung it before. An excited ‘Aw!’ resounded throughout the hall, and as it played, I was taken back to family parties where the older kids would play me what songs were out at the moment that they liked, and I would listen in awe as I was taught what was ‘cool’. Razorlight’s top hits, like ‘Before I Fall to Pieces’, ‘In the Morning’ and ‘Golden Touch’, were also performed; being met with huge, sentimental excitement from the spectators (including myself).
Before the ensemble packed up to conclude what had been a fantastic night, Borrell makes a point to inform the audience of their musical authenticity as a live band – “no backing track” he proclaims, “just my people playing real music.”