Manchester had a lot to live up to tonight. The previous night Blitz Kids had played Rock City in Nottingham and they had made it known that this was the best show they had ever played together to date. With Manchester being the band’s hometown, expectations were high for the almost sold-out show in the upstairs room of Sound Control. As soon as the doors were open groups of fans (some of whom had been queuing for 6 hours!) ran in to make sure they were at the barrier, or at least as close as possible.
Opening tonight were Scholars, who were preceded by an intro of dramatic strobe lighting and techno music then a countdown to their entrance. They got the crowd clapping along and jumping almost straight away, really getting things going. Scholars describe themselves simply as a “rock band” but they have an interesting sound with punk elements thrown in the mix. Following ‘Bad for Business’, front man Sam Nicholls announced they would be playing some new material. Guitarist Joe picked up a pair of drumsticks and proceeded to beat a drum that had been placed at the front of the stage for parts of the first new song- a slower, more melodic number- whilst Sam jumped down off the stage and walked around serenading various members of the audience. The rest of the set picked up the pace again and they ended on a high note, leaving the crowd well and truly warmed up.
Next on were Natives, bringing their energetic pop-rock back to Manchester to a great reaction. They also had an extra drum front of stage and the added accompaniment of a cowbell at the beginning of the first song! Vocalist Jim Thomas instructed the crowd to “get down low” and jump up when the song kicked back in, to which most people obliged, and this set the tone for the rest of the show with great audience interaction throughout.
‘The Horizon’ was a highlight of the set- the catchy, bouncy tune being their next single, for which there is a video already available to view. Prior to the last song Jim took a photo of the crowd and said the print would go to the person who went the craziest during the closing number- the very catchy ‘For Everything’ from the band’s latest full album Indoor War. Natives are a fun, lively band to watch and they are always very popular on any bill.
By the time Blitz Kids were ready to take to the stage the room was packed out and the crowd was more than ready to receive them. The Nantwich foursome opened with the huge ‘Sometimes’ followed by the incredibly fast-paced ‘Run for Cover’ from their latest album The Good Youth and immediately got everyone bouncing and singing along to the choruses. When he was about to introduce ‘Sold My Soul’, vocalist Joey James told the crowd about the great show they had played in Nottingham the night before and asked if Manchester thought they could do better.
He told everyone to have their singing voices ready, as it’s a song with a “big old chorus, with some big old words!” Big choruses are what Blitz Kids do best (with brilliant backing vocals from guitarist Jono Yates and bassist Nic Montgomery) and the fans obliged of course, not wanting to be outdone. This prompted the band members to say what a great show they were having and they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves, playing their hearts out as always.
Following ‘You’re Dead to Me’ and ‘Strangers With Memories’ from the Never Die EP they then announced that on this tour they had decided to go back a few years and play some older material that they haven’t played for a while: (“Because we’re headlining, and we can do what we want!”) First of the older songs was ‘Story’ from the 2011 album Vagrants and Vagabonds, followed by ‘Maybe We’ll Die, Maybe We Won’t’ which appeared on the 2010 EP Scavengers. Drummer Matt Freer joined the band after these releases, in late 2012, but you would never guess this from watching him on stage. He appeared just as confident and energetic during these older numbers as he always does.
Clearly a large portion of the audience was familiar with the early Blitz Kids material as these songs got a reaction almost as enthusiastic as the newer ones. The guys then kicked into a surprising cover of ‘I’m Not OK (I Promise)’ by My Chemical Romance which was followed by their own uplifting and anthemic ‘Never Die’ and fist-pumping ‘On My Own’.
Joey then said that normally at that point they would walk off and stand in a dark room debating when to come back on stage while the crowd chanted: “One more song!”, but that was another thing they had decided to change on this tour. He said they had two more songs to play, which resulted in a chant of: “Two more songs!” First encore was ‘All I Want is Everything’ followed by latest single ‘Perfect’ which was indeed perfect for closing the set and even the few people who hadn’t been bouncing beforehand joined in with this one. I’m not sure if we beat Nottingham but the band and crowd alike definitely had a brilliant time and it’s great to see these local guys doing so well.
Review: Rachel McMurdo
2) Run for Cover
4) Keep Swinging
5) Sold My Soul
6) You’re Dead to Me
7) Strangers With Memories
9) Maybe We’ll Die, Maybe We Won’t
10) I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (My Chemical Romance cover)
11) Never Die
12) On My Own
13) All I Want Is Everything