On the 8th November, at our very own Manchester Academy, Scouting for Girls took us on a journey through the messy and exhilarating times of being a teenager with their timeless music. Against the stage’s backdrop featuring the band’s newest album cover of lead singer Roy Stride‘s childhood home, Stride gestured to the open window of his bedroom that he used to secretly smoke in. Although we all have grown up, Scouting for Girls remained true to their classically nostalgic sound, as evident in their latest album, The Place We Used to Meet.
From the beginning, the crowd was buzzing – almost too electric to give space to the dreamy soundscape of opener Anni Pohta. On her first UK tour, she was a blanket of warmth, the buttery piano complementing the huskiness of her voice. Her powerful vocals carried a poignant emotiveness, reminiscent of Björk, as she sang heartfelt songs about personal struggles. Although the depth of her songs didn’t seem to reach the raring crowd, her genuine joy as she told us that we were part of her “core memory forever” was infectious.
The next support act, D3lta, was an immediate crowd-pleaser. The audience’s energy transformed, with the powerful rock notes of his songs melding with his deep voice. D3lta carried the audience’s energy with ease and confidence, with genuine happiness on his face as he interacted with the crowd. This gig held special significance as D3lta, who has roots in both Greece and Manchester, proudly shared his connection to the city before his final song, ‘Happy Out of Love’, revealing that his mother hails from Manchester. He seemed completely at home, not only on the stage, but also in the vibrant city of Manchester.
Finally, the main event arrived, the audience perfectly energised by the opener’s performances. It all kicked off with the new album’s first official single ‘The Missing Part’, one that can be easily mistaken as a song the band would have written in their early days. With its upbeat, catchy lyrics, it was an immediate crowd-pleaser. Stride exclaimed, “I can’t believe I’m here,” a feeling very much reciprocated by the screaming crowd. Next came a fan-favourite, the band in their element with ‘This Ain’t a Love Song’. From here onwards, it was clear what an era-defining band Scouting for Girls is, touching the hearts of people from all walks of life.
The whole gig felt like a re-enactment of the band’s own journey, from childhood friends to the renowned band they are now. They effortlessly transitioned back and forth between their older and newer songs, keeping the audience entertained with easy hand clapping and fun chants; if there is one thing a British audience has learnt from primary school assemblies, it is how to recite songs. The crowd sang with ease and energy, as the evening sped by quickly with ‘Famous’ and ‘I wish I was James Bond’.
The band held onto the nostalgia with their newest songs, with lyrics like “I’ll kiss you like the old times” as Stride lamented about going back in time, a feeling the crowd certainly shared, with the emotional ballad ‘The Place We Used to Meet’. Seeing everyone singing their hearts out to the old and new music truly made for a connected atmosphere like no other.
Although Stride commented on how Manchester Academy was the biggest venue on the tour, one couldn’t help feeling an intimate connection with the band as Stride fondly described the album as “going back to our roots and rediscovering why we love music.” A statement so simple but so true, highlighted by the band’s retelling of their early days being called ‘Power Cut’ in the time when they couldn’t afford proper electric instruments.
It struck then and there that whilst we were growing up, the band themselves had also grown into who they are now. A shining addition to the ensemble, Nick Tsang captivated the night with his fervent guitar solos, embodying the teenage 2000s heartthrob image. Dressed in suspenders and a simple white shirt, he seamlessly blended with the band’s classic attire of t-shirts and jeans.
Scouting for Girls finished with the emotional new song ‘Glow’. The room was aglow with the torch lights of our phones, illuminating the band as Stride said “I don’t think shows can get bigger and better than the love and loudness in this room.” Although this was supposedly the last song, the audience knew better as Scouting for Girls returned once more for a rapturous encore finishing with the final song of the night ‘She’s So Lovely’. Clearly anticipated the whole night, the room burst with unrestrained energy.
The spirit of the 2000s ran electric for the final time that night before Scouting for Girls well and truly signed off. This was not a goodbye, but a ‘see you later’. As demonstrated that night, Scouting for Girls remains steadfastly true to themselves, promising to grace stages for many years to come.