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3rd June 2024

The Magic Gang live in Manchester: A magical farewell from the indie darlings

After announcing that they would be calling time on the band, Brighton indie darlings The Magic Gang bring an electrifying farewell set to Manchester’s New Century Hall
The Magic Gang live in Manchester: A magical farewell from the indie darlings
Lucy Craig @ The Mancunion

Written by Roxie Rees

In January of this year, The Magic Gang took to Instagram to announce their “Farewell Shows” tour in Glasgow, Manchester, and London. Their caption read: “We dedicated everything to the band and I’m so glad we did, because we got the world in return. For now, we’ve decided to call time on The Magic Gang.” On Wednesday May 22, The Magic Gang delivered a nostalgic and energetic performance at Manchester’s iconic New Century Hall for the very last time.

The Magic Gang are a British indie rock band formed in Brighton in 2013, consisting of Jack Kaye (vocals and guitar), Kristian Smith (vocals and guitar), Angus Taylor (bass guitar), and Paeris Giles (drums). Their 2018 debut album, The Magic Gang, earned them a reputation for catchy, melodic indie rock songs which helped them build a local following and eventually attract wider attention. In 2020 they released their follow-up, Death of a Party, which was praised for its eclectic influences and lyrical depth.

Having grown up in Brighton, I first saw The Magic Gang in January 2019 after the release of their first album in the basement of the Komedia – a venue with a capacity of only 415. This was the first live gig I attended with my friends and it holds a special place in my heart for igniting my passion for live music. Now, as a student at Manchester, seeing them at New Century Hall for their final show felt like things had come full circle. This venue, with its large school-hall-like stage and spacious dance floor under its disco ceiling, was perfect for this memorable night.

Country folk singer Alan Power opened the show, immediately showcasing his musical talent and Old Western style along with his four-piece band. Initially, he seemed an odd choice for support, but his incredible guitar solos, unique stage presence, and catchy melodies won everyone over instantly. His performance ended with an impressive cover of ‘Sultans of Swing’, as he lit up white sage with an old lighter and danced around the stage, prompting a crowd member to say, “I don’t know how they’re going to beat that.”

Lucy Craig @ The Mancunion

Pints in hand and dancing shoes now on, the crowd waited in anticipation before the lights dimmed and The Magic Gang walked on stage in suits, taking their places and kicking off with an animated performance of ‘Think’. Their rich harmonies and Kristian Smith’s lead vocals set a spirited tone for the night. After a few high-energy songs and an intense mosh pit, bassist Angus Taylor proclaimed, “Manchester, it’s always been you,” causing the crowd to erupt in a crowd of cheers.

Midway through the show, technical difficulties arose, with the band announcing they couldn’t hear themselves due to monitor issues, prompting them to ask the crowd to sing louder during ‘What Have You Got to Lose’ so they could keep up. Despite the challenges, the band’s performance was stellar, with Kristian remarking afterwards, “the show must go on.”

A highlight not just for me, but for the entire crowd was when Jack suggested, “If there’s going to be a song for you to go on someone’s shoulders, this is it,” before playing ‘Jasmine’. I rather unglamorously climbed on my friend’s shoulders, joining the sea of fans singing along – a truly special moment.

As the gig neared its end, they announced, “Manchester, we have a special guest for you… Stockport’s very own Tom Ogden!” The crowd went berserk as the band brought on the lead singer of Blossoms to assist them in singing ‘All That I Want Is You’. Ogden gave an exhilarating performance which was lapped up by the Mancunian crowd.

Lucy Craig @ The Mancunion

After exiting the stage and inevitably being called on for an encore, the band returned, expressing their gratitude for our support before giving us a heart-warming and rather fitting performance of ‘Life Without You’. This was followed by a nostalgic rendition of the Arthur theme song ‘Believe in Yourself’, which brought together a crowd of twenty-somethings together arm-in-arm as we all belted this song from our childhood.

The Magic Gang concluded their farewell show with the fan-favourite ‘How Can I Compete’, leaving everyone dancing and singing with smiles on their faces. Despite almost losing a shoe, it was exhilarating jumping around one last time to this song together. For the first time ever, I was actually grateful for Manchester’s trusty biblical rain as we left the venue. All in all, The Magic Gang delivered a bittersweet yet unforgettable final show.

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