making a splendid appearance or show; of exceptional beauty; extraordinarily fine; superb: sublime:
That one descriptive adjective is how I would begin and conclude my review of alternative rock band Manchester Orchestra’s gig at O2 Academy in Newcastle.
Greeted with a warm reception, the band got things well underway playing such songs as Pride, Shake It Out, Pensacola and Pale Black Eye. From the off this had the audience entranced whilst I was in a complete state of awe.
The one thing I frequently noticed was that the crowd were the human embodiment of the band’s music, they moved to the pace of the music and seemed to live every note and phrase. For Manchester Orchestra to make each member of the audience so utterly connected was inspiring to the say the least.
The real strength of Manchester Orchestra is their ability to produce a record-sounding live performance and a performance of stadium sized pedigree with a feeling of intimacy.
The band themselves clearly felt it was an intimate and special occasion, declaring immediately after their fifth song, Every Stone, that Newcastle has already been the best night of the UK tour so far.
The intensity, range and quality of Frontman Andy Hull’s voice had the crowd spellbound and silent at times, and roaring approval at others. To say that his voice was even more impressive than on record would be a huge understatement.
Song after song went by , each one being as good as the last, the opening lines of Simple Math were passionately sung back to the band; to see such happy faces singing out loud the disturbing line ‘I want to rip your lips off in my mouth’ was as enjoyable as it was ironic.
Manchester Orchestra offered a very indie version of their song Everything To Nothing. Beginning with two minutes of the same enchanting the same riff provoked one member of the audience, eagerly anticipating the band to kick into the song, to scream the opening lyric over Andy Hulls concise rendition of the fans’ favourite. Hull finally got the song started by pronouncing ‘let’s do this sh*t properly’ with comedic.
Again Hull pronounced ‘This has been the best gig we’ve ever done in the UK, thank you. I can tell the band are playing better simply because Tim is beating the sh*t out of those drums, last few shows he’s been playing poor’. That spurred a two minute chant of ‘TIM, TIM, TIM’ until he responded with a drum solo.
This interaction between the band and audience summed the night up. It could have been in a bar, your friend’s kitchen or your garage but to recapture the intimacy of 3rd of October in Newcastle 02 Academy 2 room would prove to be a challenging undertaking.
Encore time, that part of the night in which the audience believe the band require a break and they expect to see more songs before the band finally say goodbye. That was not to be that night, their approach was unpretentious, they simply put it to the fans ‘let’s pretend we have left the stage, and now we’re back’. During the encore, I witnessed something I will struggle to accurately report purely because it took all thoughts out from my head and left me in total tranquillity. The song was Top Notch. From the heavy opening to the soft ending during which the band let the crowd take control of both harmonies and vocals, this was a rare treat and one that will stick in the audiences’ collective mind.
Manchester Orchestra said farewell through the acoustic song Deer, a more than fitting goodbye as the lyrics testify to the bands philosophy towards the success they’ve enjoyed; ‘Dear everybody that has paid to see my band, still confusing, I’ll never understand’. I will forever understand why. And I will stick my neck out to say, if you were to see just one band this year, make it Manchester Orchestra.
Manchester Orchestra you were magnificent.
Reviewer: Tyler Marriott
Photographer: Jill O’Donnell