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8th April 2024

Everything Everything live in Manchester: I’m a Mountainhead too

Everything Everything bring their Mountainhead tour to New Century Hall for a triumphant hometown outing
Everything Everything live in Manchester: I’m a Mountainhead too
Credit: Ailish O’Leary Austin @ The Mancunion

Everything Everything are on a tear. After landing their sixth consecutive top ten album with Mountainhead at the start of March, the band took to the stage at New Century Hall for the second of two back-to-back hometown shows on their sold-out UK tour.

Support came from Divorce, Nottingham’s most exciting musical prospects. Their dual vocalists Felix Mackenzie-Barrow and Tiger Cohen-Towell broke the seal on the evening with ‘Sex & the Millennium Bridge’, floating interlocking vocal lines over Mackenzie-Barrow and Adam Peter Smith’s overdriven but understated guitars.

Dazzling in their shorter slot, Divorce ran the gamut of alt-country: from Cohen-Towell’s black leather chaps and ornate cowboy boots to Mackenzie-Barrow’s esoteric offset guitars. From Peter-Smith’s glassy slide guitar interjections to Kasper Sandstrom’s at times frenetic drumming. From the lilting frustration of ‘Eat My Words’ to the out-and-out grunge of ‘Services’ – a special request from the headliners – they made the room pay attention.

Divorce performing at New Century Hall
Credit: Ailish O’Leary Austin @ The Mancunion

Suitably warmed up, New Century greeted the main event with noise fitting of a home crowd. Lit only by the symbol of their titular Mountainhead cult, its white light ricocheting off a gnarled, knurled backdrop, Everything Everything stood ready as the cavernous ambiance that begins ‘The Mad Stone’ seemed to open up and darken the room. When the first words burst out of frontman Jonathan Higgs – “Are you coming outside?” – the capacity crowd met him with one voice. Invitation answered.

In front of 800 would-be cultists, the ardent maximalism of Mountainhead translated perfectly to the stage. During ‘Wild Guess’, Alex Robertshaw’s fuzz-drenched Gibson ES-335 sawed through the room, usurping the space made by Pete Sené’s drifting synth pads before eventually giving way to Higgs’ vocals, almost written to be shouted back as mantras.

Later, ‘Buddy, Come Over’ built atop a no-nonsense Jeremy Pritchard bassline to a chorus powered by Mike Spearman’s impeccable live drums, skidding through an incessant hi-hat pattern which made sure Robertshaw’s repeating, wonky guitar stabs remained undeniably danceable. Each instrument and instrumentalist weaved over and through each other effortlessly, bringing their labyrinthine art-pop to life.

Mike Spearman and Jeremy Pritchard performing with Everything Everything
Credit: Ailish O’Leary Austin @ The Mancunion

The show was much more than a mimicry of their records, however. Everything Everything’s stylistic hallmarks – Robertshaw’s searing guitar and Higgs’ at-times-cherubic falsetto – only sounded better when given a room to fill. Saturating the air, guitar runs that played second-string atmospherics on the studio version of ‘Metroland Is Burning’ became something between a siren and a scream – brilliantly overwhelming.

The band dabbled in the theatrical, too, ‘Enter The Mirror’ seeing a faux mirror rise behind Higgs for the final chorus. Pinned in front of the mirror by two spotlights, the hook soared out of Higgs from within the bright white singularity on stage. With Spearman’s drums needling in from the dark, the vocal line hung in limbo amidst the darkness until finally light returned and the musical tension released, sending the room cascading into a dance break.

Alex Robertshaw performing with Everything Everything
Credit: Ailish O’Leary Austin @ The Mancunion

Rightfully confident in their most recent release, Mountainhead dominated the setlist, and from the response it got you’d think the songs had been out for much longer than a month. Already loud for the new music, New Century all but overpowered the men on stage as they approached the tried-and-true cult classics.

With a rare opportunity to put down his guitar, Higgs led the crowd through ‘Night of the Long Knives’ like a crazed conductor, feeding off the manic energy from below. The crescendo from the floor continued rising through ‘Cough Cough’ and ‘Photoshop Handsome’ – a surprise inclusion of careening indie rock from 2010’s Man Alive – reaching a fever pitch for ‘Distant Past’, the final song before the encore. Refusing to let the dust settle, the New Century audience demanded the band back onto the stage almost before they’d left.

Everything Everything performing at New Century Hall
Credit: Ailish O’Leary Austin @ The Mancunion

Reappearing with celebratory Aperol Spritzes in hand, toasting the crowd, the band settled into their encore with a self-assured swagger. Arriving finally at ‘No Reptiles’, Higgs’ falsetto, Robertshaw’s white-hot, glitching guitar, and the crowd below combined in a massive wave of catharsis, all screaming out couplets up to a final, reverberating release. Even Pritchard seemed swept up by the band’s anthemic closer, removing his in-ears to appreciate the moment with the crowd, to stay within the “one night to feel.”

Walking out into the Easter Saturday evening, still caught in the reverie of ‘No Reptiles’, I found it hard to disagree with the cultist narrator of ‘The Mad Stone’ – I’m a Mountainhead too.

Max Halton

Max Halton

Max is doing a masters in Gender, Sexuality, and Culture, and distracts herself from this by writing about how great live music is.

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