The Virginmarys, Tax The Heat & Crobot @ The Ritz Manchester 27/09/2014

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Tonight was the last night of a short 4-date tour for The Virginmarys to showcase the new material they have been working on, and their biggest headline show to date.  The band have a loyal following in the North West as this is where they hail from, and at least one coach load of fans had come from their hometown of Macclesfield so tonight was set to be a great night from the start.

CrobotKicking off the show were Crobot, all the way from Pennsylvania.  It was an early start to the night and the audience was still filtering in when they began their set but they got a great welcome as soon as they came on and grabbed the crowd’s attention with their opening riffs and front man Brandon Yeagley’s powerful vocals and distinctive 70s image.  They came in moshing and can certainly rock but they also have a bluesy groove-rock vibe which was most evident during ‘The Necromancer’ which featured Brandon playing the mouth organ. Highlight of the show for me was the catchy and groovy ‘Nowhere to Hide’ for which they have recently produced a video.  Following this Brandon thanked the Virginmarys, calling them a “kick-ass band” and then it was time for their final song of the night, the dirty, bass-laden ‘Fly on the Wall’. They got a great reception and really got the crowd warmed up.

TTH1Next on were Bristol’s Tax the Heat.  The 4-piece took to the stage in their suits and despite the incredibly high temperature in The Ritz managed to give it all they had for the whole set.  Tax the Heat are, in their own words:  “Born from a pure love of straight ahead rhythm and blues music.”  There are so many other elements thrown in but what you take away from it most of all is an energetic Rock ‘n Roll/blues vibe with their own contemporary twist.  You might be surprised by the energy and sound of this band if you judge them by appearances, as their image is of a straight-laced 60s pop/rock band. They soon dispelled this image and got the crowd going with openers ‘Millionaire’ and ‘Devil’s Daughter’ and frontman Alex Veale showed how it’s done by jumping around and playing/singing his heart out.

tth2Alex dedicated the lovely 90s rock-esque ‘Caroline’ to the headliners and they did a great cover of ‘Lost Woman’ by The Yardbirds mid-set which they dedicated to Crobot.  The guys ended their set with latest single, the catchy, foot-tapper ‘Highway Home’ which has been showcased on Planet Rock.  Another great reception, and I think Manchester would love to see Tax the Heat back again very soon!

VM1The Ritz had been filling up fast all night and by the time The Virginmarys came on it was packed out.  The gritty rockers kicked off with a new song; ‘Push the Pedal and Drive’ and instantly the crowd were jumping up and down and really getting into it.   Things got even more frantic with ‘Just a Ride’ and ‘Taking the Blame’ from their 2013 album King of Conflict and Ally Dickaty seemed overwhelmed by the response, thanking the crowd for their enthusiasm and telling everyone to “look after each other in that pit”.  The 3 guys looked perfectly at home on The Ritz’s big stage and filled the place with their presence and thunderous drums and riffs.  Matt Rose is amazing on bass and backing vocals and drummer Danny Dolan could captivate an audience on his own with his showmanship, often standing up and beating the life out of the drum kit.

vm3They played an 18-song set including many new songs which were enthusiastically received and it seems the upcoming album is going to be another belter.  The main set ended with ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ which got another pit going, then the guys left the stage but the crowd were almost deafening in their insistence for encores and it was clear there was more to come.  Before the first encore Ally asked who in the audience had travelled from their hometown of Macclesfield and a massive cheer went up, mainly from front and centre.  As well as local support, there were fans who had travelled many miles to see the show so they got a special thank you.

vm4‘Northern Sun’ was introduced as being “a song about the North West” then the guys kicked into the final song of the night, the massive ‘Bang Bang Bang’ that managed to do the seemingly impossible by kicking the crowd into even more of a frenzy than before.  Northern rockers The Virginmarys are really coming into their own and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are headlining arenas before long.  Look out for their upcoming album, and if you don’t already own it I highly recommend King of Conflict– it will quickly become your favourite album!

Review: Rachel McMurdo

Photos: Fiona

Headliner Setlist

1) Push the Pedal and Drive

2) Just a Ride

3) Taking the Blame

4) For You My Love

5) You’ve Got Your Money, I’ve Got My Soul

6) Into Dust

7) Motherless Land

8) Free To Do

9) Dressed To Kill

10) Running For My Life

11) Halo In Her Silhouette

12) Kill The Messenger

13) Moths to a Flame

14) Portrait of Red

15) Lost Weekend

16) Dead Man’s Shoes

Encore

17) Northern Sun

18) Bang Bang Bang


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