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Posts Tagged ‘Live’

White Lies return to Academy 1 tonight after a near two year absence, suffering from a severe case of ‘second album syndrome’. Their sophomore effort, Ritual, has been in stores roughly a month and was met with decidedly mixed reviews; I certainly wouldn’t recommend picking up a copy if you’re hoping for a major departure from their 2009 debut.

West Palm Beach-based indie rockers Surfer Blood brought with them a little bit of Florida sunshine to Academy 3 on Wednesday night, as they powered through a set that lasted just shy of an hour, but for what it lacked in quantity it more than made up for it in quality.

Returning to Academy 1 in support of their seventh album, the wonderfully-titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, post-rock veterans Mogwai deliver a stirring, two-hour set that spans their entire career. They showcase a whole host of tracks from the new record, opening with the chirpy and upbeat ‘White Noise’, with ‘Mexican Grand Prix’, ‘I’m Lionel Richie’ and new single ‘Rano Pano’ also aired, the latter brilliantly blending grinding guitars with subtle synths. This is a band capable of conveying an incredibly wide range of emotion in their music, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that the vast majority of it is purely instrumental.

The intimate atmosphere in Academy 3 was the perfect setting for the first appearance of intriguing new sound and beat makers, The Naked and Famous. This New Zealand-originated rock band have fused the ferocious talents of Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers to create a five-piece band with a style similar to that of MGMT, yet they differentiate with vocals to rival that of Paramore’s Hayley Williams.

Tonight was always going to be about Reel Big Fish though and with this gig being one small part of their massive 20th Anniversary World Tour, it’s pretty much a given that what will ensue will be rather spectacular. That is, if they can get the microphones to work. With the gig already delayed by a tense 10 minutes, the lights finally dim and no time is wasted as ‘Sell Out’ strikes up, sending a surge of skankers into bouncing their way closer to the front.

Not often does a night split itself into extremes as much as this. Opening act Hammers start the night painfully dull for such a crushingly heavy band and, whilst anything but dull, following act Iron Will’s haphazard set leaves you wondering if it is deliberate that they sound so incredibly out of time from one another. No surprise then that they announce to the waiting crowd that they are looking for a new drummer.

Feeder have had a mixed career, from the low points of the unfortunate suicide of drummer Jon Lee and replacement drummer Mark Richardson leaving to rejoin Skunk Anansie to creating their own label, Big Teeth Music, and over 20 Top 40 singles.

“It seems like everybody’s smiling tonight,” notes frontwoman Ninja after opening with the frenetic T.O.R.N.A.D.O., “is it a Northern thing?” You can’t really blame her for forgetting – after all, it has been a full three years since The Go! Team’s last UK tour and even longer since they last played in Manchester. Judging by the quality of their superb third album, Rolling Blackouts, and the way it translates live tonight, it certainly seems to have been time well spent.

Musical re-inventions don’t come much more drastic than that of rapper turned crooner Ben Drew (aka Plan B aka Strickland Banks) who tonight plays host to an evening of retro-soul at Manchester’s Apollo. Liam Bailey prepares the crowd perfectly for the main event with his deep husky tones, performing a short set of bluesy tunes including the raw and beautiful ‘It’s Not the Same’, and soon to be hit single ‘You Better Leave Me’, demonstrating exactly why he’s tipped to be the next big thing in contemporary soul.

Their new album, The King Is Dead, went to number one in America and tonight’s show is part of their biggest UK tour to date, but the strongest indication of The Decemberists having ‘made it’ surely comes in the form of a pre-recorded message, played before the band take the stage, from the mayor of their hometown of Portland, Sam Adams.

As the show started, and timid guitars gathered together to create a melancholic atmosphere, a fellow spectator echoed my thoughts and turned to ask: “Is this Wolf People?” Yet undeniably, it was. This minimal, almost shy entrance was immediately juxtaposed by the introduction of the anthemic ‘Silbury Sands’ and a raw, guitar-based aggression was installed. At times I found myself returning to the heavy rock heaven of the early ‘70s and, dare I say it, a slight tinge of Led Zeppelin was evident in certain moments, as towering guitar riffs and booming bass lines resonated throughout the jam-packed Deaf Institute.

Bugged Out! has been at the cutting edge of electro since its conception at Sankeys in 1994. However, the drought of bodies at the door suggested that the excitement surrounding electro-house at the end of the last decade had finally subsided. Luckily, the night left a convincing impression of where the future of this sub-genre may lie.