Rather than writing something after each gig or show that I went to this year, I thought I’d take the easier (and somewhat lazier) route of just summarising my memories from these events by seeing what, if anything, has stuck with me throughout the year about each gig!
So, without further ado, here are my memories of the gigs I went to in 2014…
Event: Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip
Location: Manchester Academy 2
Went with: Jack, Josh & Mike
The first thing I remember happening on the night was walking in to the Academy building and immediately seeing Scroobius Pip, who was manning his own merch table like a champ, and meeting and greeting people before the show. We entered the actual venue only minutes before the lights went down to start the show. The room was absolutely packed! I think I’d been to three DLS/SP gigs before, and this was by far the busiest I’ve ever seen one. We squeezed our way through the doors and around the pack of the room to the mid-left. It wasn’t a great view, but we only had ourselves to blame for getting drinks beforehand, rather than securing a decent spot!
The gig was, as expected, fantastic. One thing I remember in particular was the song ‘You Will See Me’, which is the last track from their last album ‘Repent, Replenish, Repeat’ and the first time I’d heard them play it live. It was my favourite song from the album and Pip’s performance of it was so full of emotion that it was equal parts awe-inspiring and chilling to witness.
They ended the show with Pip leaving the stage to the sounds of Dan Le Sac banging out an awesome extended-mix of Prodigy’s ‘Voodoo People’, complete with light show. It was really cool! The entire room was loving it; people were dancing and I felt like I was at a festival. Such a great way to end the show on a high.
The duo announced a few months ago that they were calling an end to their little musical partnership for good. This gig turned out to be the last show they played in Manchester. I’m really proud to say that I was there. These guys will no doubt go down in music history as one (two?) of the greats, and I feel like I’m now in some way part of that history, in the way people who went to see Nirvana’s last show are, too.
Event: City & Colour
Location: Manchester Apollo
Went with: Josh, his family, and his mate Scott.
I’ve seen them twice and both times I’ve come away thinking “Wow, my legs hurt from standing still for so long …But they were some really good songs! …But my legs actually ache …But such good music!” This time was no different.
The Apollo is a pretty great venue, at least in terms of being able to have a great view from pretty much anywhere in the room. We were stood towards the back of the room and, due to the slight decline of the floor in the room, still had a perfect view of the band (whilst still being strategically close to the bar!).
Due to the nature of City & Colour’s music, the gig had very little energy. No-one really dances to their songs at shows, everyone just stands still and nods their heads, which is fine, but it really tends to suck the atmosphere out of the room. I think they would be more suited to an entirely seated audience, but I doubt they’d ever do that because that’s not very ‘rock and roll’, is it?
So the gig seemed very long-winded and slow. I found myself looking at my watch a lot and being very conscious that I was standing up and that my legs were starting to ache. I don’t think the problem was a poorly constructed set-list (although I definitely would have preferred that they play more from the first two albums ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Bring Me Your Love’, and less from the latest album ‘The Hurry And The Harm’, which was due to be released at the time), I think it was more down to the music not suiting a live show very well. Or at least not suiting a venue like this.
I like City & Colour. I really do! But I don’t think I’ll go and see them play a live show again.
Event: Mayday Parade, with Man Overboard supporting.
Location: Manchester Academy 2
Went with: Gaz
I can’t really remember much about this gig, other than that I really enjoyed myself!
Man Overboard were supporting and they were amazing! I love seeing them live, they have a really fun on-stage presence that reminds me of early Blink-182 gigs. The crowd for a Mayday Parade gig is a mix of pop-punk fans and young girls. The young girls must have been elsewhere while the punk fans were enjoying Man Overboard, because we were able to squeeze ourselves much closer than usual, considering our typical ‘fashionably late’ arrival. We were stood in the middle of the room, right in the middle of the action, and the atmosphere was electric. We stayed in this prime position until Mayday Parade took the stage.
This gig was the first time we got to hear Mayday’s ‘Monsters In The Closet’ album live – an album that we had both been very much on-the-fence about since it’s release. The singles from this album took up much of what was quite a short set. The highlights were definitely ‘Jamie All Over’, which had been their encore song on previous tours but is now one of their openers, which is probably a good move because it really gets the energy up in the room, ‘Oh Well, Oh Well’ which I think is one of the best songs from their eponymous third album, and their encore song ‘Jersey’, which is a really great sing-along song to finish the night.
Mayday Parade are a fun band to see live, despite their tendency to release albums in a “good album, followed by bad album, followed by good album” kind of pattern! They really get everyone pumped-up and seeing them play is always just a genuinely enjoyable experience.
Location: Zombie Shack (Previously ‘The Attic’, above Thirsty Scholar)
Went with: Jake and his mates.
The way I found out about Cleft is pretty odd. I was in Thirsty Scholar one night last year, watching a free live music night that a friend of a friend had put on. The bands were OK but not really my cup of tea. The last band were probably the coolest, from what I can remember. For their final song, most of the members of that band left the stage apart from two – the guitarist and the drummer. I was intrigued! They said that for their last song they wanted to play a cover of a Manchester band that they thought were “really fucking cool”, a band called Cleft; and they proceeded to do what I can now appreciate as a thoroughly decent cover of the song ‘Trapdoor’ (https://cleft.bandcamp.com/track/trapdoor). I loved it, and I went home that night and did some research on Cleft. They were playing a free gig at The Bay Horse in a few weeks time so I went to see them and my suspicions were confirmed: This band is really fucking cool.
In February of this year I had my second chance to see Cleft play. It was at the release event for their first full album ‘BOSH!‘, and it was held in the small venue above the Thirsty Scholar. I was running a bit late on the night and had heard that the show was sold-out and the venue was full to capacity, but I went along anyway to see if i could get in. I got there and found that it was the guitarist from Cleft who was personally manning the door, taking tickets etc. I don’t know whether he recognised me from when I bought Cleft’s EP from him at their Bay Horse gig, or whether he was just being a nice guy, but he let me in despite the venue being full.
And full it was! It was absolutely packed. I was amazed that a band so unusual and relatively new could attract this many people. The venue itself was a bit shoddy. The tacky tiki-theme could be ignored but they had actually run out of beer at the bar before Cleft had even taken the stage. What kind of bar runs out of beer, like, ever?!
The gig was such a unique experience! They are an instrumental band (except for one song, in which the guy from Halfling’s Leaf – another Manchester band, who were supporting on the night – came on and sang with Cleft) and it’s so unusual to hear the entire crowd singing along to the GUITAR riffs, in lieu of any lyrics! It was just a really fun show. The guys in Cleft seemed to enjoy it all, too.
If you get a chance, I would fully recommend going to see this band.
Event: Tokyo Police Club
Location: The Ruby Lounge
Went with: Jack
Tokyo Police Club came over to Manchester in March this year to tour in support of the release of their latest album, ‘Forcefield’. I hadn’t really listened to the band in the past few years. Their album ‘Champ’ has always held some strong, pleasant musical memories with me though, so I gave their new album a go and decided to go to this concert at last minute.
Getting a ticket wasn’t an issue. The gig hadn’t sold out. It was held on a Sunday night and when we arrived, the small Ruby Lounge venue wasn’t particularly busy.
Not being a dedicated fan, I didn’t know a lot of the songs they played. I enjoyed them all though, and made a special mental note to look up the song ‘Tessellate’ later – this was a song that they played towards the end of the show in which the entire band besides the singer left the stage, he picked up an unplugged acoustic guitar, told everyone to be quiet and actually played it unplugged on the edge of the stage! It was pretty cool moment, with everyone keeping quiet for the small, lonely sound of the guitar and then joining in with the words.
Another song I research after seeing it played live was the song ‘Cheer It On’, which was played as the last song of the main section of their set. This song was just so full of energy that I had to hear it again. I’ve since learned that it was their first ever song and they reference their band name in the song, which is pretty cool.
Despite not knowing that many songs before I went to this gig, I really enjoyed it. In particular, i’m glad I got to here them play ‘Bambi’, ‘Favourite Colour’, ‘Breakneck Speed’ and ‘Your English Is Good’ – four songs that remind me so strongly of being 19 at university that it hurts inside.
Event: Brand New, with Saves The Day (& The Front Bottoms) supporting.
Location: Manchester Academy 1
Went with: Mike, Gaz and Josh
Brand New Setlist: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/brand-new/2014/manchester-academy-manchester-england-bc3f1e2.html
I was so excited when I heard Saves The Day were supporting, even though I only know one of their albums. I’ve always known them as one of the biggest influences of one of my favourite bands (Say Anything) and I was really looking forward to seeing ‘At Your Funeral’ played live! They played it towards the end of their short set and this moment was definitely one of my highlights for this year. Absolutely amazing.
I wish i had known of the front bottoms when i went to this gig, because I’ve listened to their latest album since and I really like them! I bet they would have been great to seen live!
I actually can’t really remember much of Brand New at all. I remember them playing ‘Seventy Times 7’, which is my favourite of their songs, but not much else. I remember the set starting off slow, with a lot of newer songs that I didn’t particularly care about, and then getting in to a great chunk of songs in the middle, and ending a bit weakly.
Anyone who has seen Brand New before will be able to tell you how they will likely end a set – with one song that they draw out for ages – and that’s exactly what they did. I remember ‘You Won’t Know’ lasting, predictably, for a long time.
I dunno, maybe it would have been nice to change things up a bit? It’s not going to stop me seeing them live every time, though!
Event: Real Friends & Modern Baseball
Location: The Star & Garter
Went with: Jake
Real Friends Setlist: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/real-friends/2014/the-star-and-garter-manchester-england-2bc34c9a.html
No one I know had even heard of these bands at this time, so I dragged Jake to see them, who was just ready and willing to hear some new live music! I hadn’t seen a gig at The Star & Garter before this, so I didn’t know what to expect. We arrived and were pleased to see that it was just a really cool pub-venue. Had a couple of pints while the first couple of bands played (can’t remember which bands they were) and checked out the merch tables (which were manned by the band members themselves, which is always cool to see).
Modern Baseball were second-to-last and the room was absolutely packed full. The set was amazing, they were so much fun. Everyone in there was really into the band and it just had the best atmosphere for such a tiny, busy room. Even Jake, who hadn’t heard of the band before, really seemed to enjoy it and ended up buying their CD from the merch table after the gig.
The last band to play was Real Friends. I like a couple of their songs but don’t really know them, and this seemed to be the situation with about 80% of the people who were in the room. After Modern Baseball, the room pretty much just emptied. It was quite embarrassing actually, as Real Friends were the headliners and were playing to a significantly smaller crowd than the second-to-last band. While we had no option but to stand squashed near the door for Modern Baseball (and loved it), we were given free roam of the room for Real Friends, with only two or three rows of fans stood in front of the stage. I still enjoyed this band though, it was just a shame that people didn’t stay around for them after seeing Modern Baseball, because the atmosphere in there could have been much better!
Event: Neutral Milk Hotel
Location: Manchester Albert Hall
Went with: Chris & Oli
I could be wrong but I don’t think this venue has been open long. I remember it being Brannigans years ago (what an awful place that was!), but wasn’t aware that it was now called ‘Albert Hall’ and that they held live music events here until I heard about this gig. When I first heard that Neutral Milk Hotel were playing in Manchester, there was no question in my mind. I needed to go to this gig. I’d been a fan for years and had resigned myself to the fact that the band wouldn’t get back together and if they did, it’d probably only be to play a couple of show somewhere in America. Needless to say I was waiting with anticipation for the moment that the tickets went on sale! I managed to get some and they apparently then sold out within a few minutes.
The venue turned out to be amazing. It was like we were in a church, with a huge vaulting ceiling, pillars and stained glass windows. It was the perfect venue for a folky, atmospheric band like this.
I’d never even seen what this band looked like, so I was initial surprised that there were so many of them! There were around 7 people on the stage, and each must have played at least 3 different instruments during the set, which was incredible in itself.
You could tell how serious they are about their music, with hardly any words spoken from the band to the audience and a focus on performing the songs as completely accurately as possible. This seriousness was slightly broken up by the bass player, who began telling a joke while the singer went off stage to get some water (or something). He got half way through the joke, right up to the punchline and the singer came back on and he said “I’ll tell you guys the rest later” – and he never did. It was a joke about an orange. I will never know the punchline of this joke. Never.
The bassist was also an amazing saw-player! He had a rack of different-sized saws at the front of the stage and was able to get some amazing sounds out of them with a violin bow.
I doubt I’ll get another chance to see this band, so I’m so glad that I was able to see them this year. It really was an unforgettable experience.
Event: Pixies, with Maximo Park (& Royal Blood) supporting.
Location: Castlefield Bowl
Went with: Chris & Oli
I didn’t really know anything by Pixies, besides maybe one or two songs, before this gig. I didn’t even buy a ticket in advance – I got a call from my mate Chris who was having a pint before going to the gig (they already had tickets) and said that they had been offered a free ticket from two guys they had met in the bar. I took them up on this offer of a free ticket and we went down to Castlefield Bowl!
I wasn’t even aware that there was a venue in Castlefield. I think it’s a seasonal venue (I definitely wouldn’t want to see a gig there in winter, at least!). It was a huge outdoor stage, with festival-style beer and food tents. It was also absolutely packed.
We got there in time to see most of Maximo Park’s set, which was pretty good. I’ve always been a casual fan of their band. I wish I’d know about Royal Blood before this gig, though. They were the band before Maximo Park and, having listened to their music since this gig, I really wish I could have seen them play live! I bet that would have been awesome! Ah well, I need to start putting more research into the support bands of gigs I go to, I think!
Pixies were amazing. I bought my first Pixies album (‘Doolittle’) shortly after the gig.
Gig #10 (Well, more like Gigs #10-20…)
Event: Edinburgh Fringe Festival
Location: Edinburgh! (and Leith…)
Went with: Jack & Josh
After the inevitable collapse of an impossibly large group holiday plan, Jack, Josh and I found ourselves in the position of having time booked off work with nothing to do. So we decided to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and this turned out to be one of the best decisions that was made all year!
It was fantastic! None of us had been to the festival before, so we didn’t really know what to expect. We got the train up from Manchester. On the train we were sat near a family with small children so, when someone brought out a pack of cards and we decided to play a quick game of poker between the three of us, we switched the verbal terms such as “fold” and “raise” to things like “do my homework and be in bed before 11” and “respect thy mother”. This was to protect the young ears from the casual gambling that was going on nearby (obviously).
We arrived and I was amazed to see that literally everything in sight was in some way linked to the festival. Posters were everywhere, people were handing out fliers on every street, and every bar, pub and cafe in sight had been turned into a festival venue. The sheer size of the festival was really impressive.
We went to Leith.
Thanks to modern technology, we also managed to find a few cool bars that Jack had hear about through the grapevine. One of which looked like a old-fashioned barber shop at street level, and you had to go through the shop and pull a bookcase open to get into an underground pub! It was cool! We got very drunk.
Shows we went to see (in an attempt at chronological order):
- Dead Cat Live Comedy – This was a weird one. The comics were funny, but we were 3 of only 5 audience members in a large room, so it was just incredibly awkward really. This was the first show we went to and I remember us thinking “I hope the entire festival isn’t like this!” It wasn’t.
- One-Man Breaking Bad – This one was amazing. An american guy took us through the main story of Breaking Bad, impersonating each of the characters as we went along, in the space of an hour. It was manic and hilarious.
- Set List Live – This was a late-night one we went to and it was fantastic. I’d heard of the concept before (a screen shows a random phrase and the comedian has to make up a joke about it on the spot) but hadn’t had chance to see it done live before. It was so funny watching these talented people squirm as they tried their hardest to make jokes out of the phrases. In particular, I remember the comedian Tony Law was given an acronym he needed to create a funny meaning for, and watching him despair as he came up with these acronyms was one of my highlights of the entire festival really. We were in absolute stitches as we watched this professional comedian resort to hanging his head in shame as he couldn’t think of a word for the letter ‘P’ other than ‘poo’.
- Markus Birdman – We were handed a flyer for a show whilst we were sat outside a bar having a drink and decided that it was a show that sounded interesting. We headed along to a pretty tiny room and sat on the front row. Markus Birdman came on and he was great! He had this projector (like the ones you used to get in school) and had these little paper cartoon sketches that moved on it. I thought being on the front row would spell disaster and, although I did get singled out at one point, it wasn’t too traumatic in the end!
- What Does The Title Matter Anyway? (a.k.a ‘Whose Line Is It Anyway?’) – This was one of only two shows that we booked before the festival (the other being ‘One-Man Breaking Bad’), and I’m so glad we did! We were all already fans of ‘Whose Line’ and the lineup for this one was amazing. I was especially happy to see that Greg Proops, one of my favourite comedians, was on the show! It was a really great show. Probably one of my favourite parts of the trip.
- The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society – This was a weird one. I think most of the people in the audience had seen the show before and so had some idea what to expect. We didn’t have a clue. The show is kind of weird and wonderful comedy acts, perhaps the type that you wouldn’t usually see as part of other shows… One of the ones I remember in particular was this woman who came out from the back of the circular tent and made her way through the audience with salad tongues and broccoli. She then brought a ukulele out from between her cleavage and selected four guys out of the crowd (one of which was Jack), who were told to hold her in front of them as she lay across their arms and played the ukulele. She kept squirming and it was pretty funny to see the four guys struggling to hold her up before ultimately resorting to lying her awkwardly on the floor because they couldn’t hold her up any more. It was, needless to say, a pretty weird show.
- Late ‘N’ Live – This was a show that started at about 1am I think. Everyone in there (us included) was absolutely wasted by this point. There were some roudy, aggressive Scots on the front row who ended up being thrown out for being too drunk and aggressive. I remember the compare doing a great job and the comedians in general doing a great job, but everyone in the audience was just talking between themselves, barely aware that they were at a comedy show really! It was a bit awkward.
- Robin Ince – This was one of the last shows we went to and it was alright. He was really losing his voice and it was quite difficult to list to. His material was pretty good though. Something that was pretty odd was that when the show ended and we all stood up to leave, he remembered some more of his material and started shouting it, without a mic, at us all as we were heading back out of the door and up the stairs! That’s dedication.
Event: Modern Baseball
Location: Sound Control
Went with: Sarah
I was so ill on this day but there was absolutely no way that I was missing this gig, especially after how great they were when I saw them earlier this year! Sarah wasn’t feeling 100% either, but we both managed to drag ourselves down to Sound Control’s basement, and I’m so glad we did.
It says a lot that this is one of my favourite gigs of the year and I wasn’t feeling well enough to do anything but stand at the back of the room and drink lemonade. They’re such a fun band though. I love them a lot.They’re probably my favourite band of 2014, because of the amazing album they released and the awesome two gigs I saw them at!
The venue wasn’t great – very small and a couple of massive pillars makes it hard to see for any poor ill folks stood at the back drinking lemonade! The atmosphere was amazing though. People were crowd surfing, the band were loving it, it was just so much fun.
I would go and see this band every time they came round
Event: Jake & Amir
Location: The Lowry, ‘The Studio’
Went with: Gaz
I’ve been a fan of Jake & Amir for ages now, since they put some of their first few sketch videos on CollegeHumor, in fact! So I was both surprised and delighted to hear that they were not only coming to England to do a show, but they were actually coming to Manchester!
I didn’t know of anybody who was a fan of their besides me, so I just ought two tickets with the notion of dragging someone to the show near the time. It’s a comedy show, so I was sure I’d be able to find someone! That person ended up being Gary, who seemed to enjoy it too!
The show was basically a sketch comedy show, with the duo playing out their usual dynamic of Jake being the straight-man and Amir being the funny, loveable and often gross idiot. They riffed on their journey to England and their experiences with dating. It was really great. They’re natural performers!
One thing that kind of marred the performance was an incredibly annoying drunk Scottish guy in the audience who kept yelling out at every opportunity! He left the room at one point though and everyone cheered, which was actually pretty funny.
The reason they booked this tour in the first place was due to the success of their advice podcast, ‘If I Were You’. They put on 2 shows on each date – A sketch show and a live podcast recording. I wish we could have stayed around for the podcast recording, but the tickets for that one sold out really quickly!
Maybe with the success of this tour they’ll come over to England again in the future. Fingers crossed!
Event: Kids In Glass Houses
Location: Academy 2
Went with: Gaz (and Sarah)
Gary and I had a couple of pints in the SU bar before the gig and were joined by Sarah, who was doing work in the library over the road and couldn’t come to the gig. We went up to the gig after our drinks and Sarah just ended up turning up in the gig, having abandoned her work and buying a last-minute ticket from a tout outside for like £3! So that was a fun start to the gig.
One thing I remember in particular was the guy stood to the right of me in the crowd who was quite tall and wearing a very tight t-shirt, and who stood side-on, dancing the entire show! I don’t think he even looked at the stage the entire time, which was unusual, but each to their own I suppose!
I don’t know many KiGH songs, but the ones they played were great. They played my favourite of their songs, ‘Saturday’, during the encore and that was fantastic, but I was wishing the encore would end soon because I was suffereing with a particularly bad bout of diareah that night and needed to run out to the toilets as the show finished, which was a memorable event in itself really.
This was Kids In Glass Houses’ last ever tour (before their inevitable reunion tour in a few years time) and I’m proud to say that I was there for it. Despite needing to poo the entire time, it was still a fun gig, which is surely a sign of a great band.
Event: The River Versus
Location: The Fingerpost Pub in Stockport
Went with: Sarah & Sarah’s mates
I hadn’t heard of The River Versus before, I knew them as Sarah’s mate’s band, so I didn’t really know what to expect from this gig. It was at a pub in Stockport (which was an absolute effort to get to!) and there were quite a few cool bands playing that evening.
The River Versus were a kind of unusual prog-rock with a keyboard, bass and drummer. All three of the band members seemed to be incredibly talented musicians.
One moment I remember in particular was when they played an amazing video game theme medley as an encore, which reminded me of watching Vadrum’s YouTube videos of his Mario theme medleys years ago.
I bought their CD after the gig, which came with a cool little comic book drawn by the bassist. It had this little code in a corner of one of the pages and a cipher to allow you to decode it. I sat down and decoded it one afternoon.
This is what I got when I deciphered it:
eye will give
you access to
vc, not the mi –
sing as i le –
ad you to
…I don’t know what it means!
Event: Kate Tempest
Location: Contact Theatre
Went with: Jack, Josh and Mike
This one was suggested by Mike, Jack and Josh, who were all at least somewhat fans of Kate Tempest. I hadn’t heard of her before but was up for going to see something that might be a bit different to my typical gig-going experience! I had no experience of live poetry readings before this gig, so I really had no idea what to expect.
The gig was in the Contact Theatre, which I had known about for years but had never been inside or really known anything about it other than it being the big castle-like building, just off Oxford Road. It was pretty cool inside. We were able to take drinks in, had a great view and there was even a little table area for our drinks in front of us. Classy, innit.
Kate Tempest was amazing. The show focused on the works she had written for her new book. It began with some really deep and emotional poems, moved in to some lighter, more comedic poems in the middle, and finished with another tail of the character introduced in the beginning of the show, a character called Tyrisius.
I really want to read her anthology and her previous works too. I bet they’re great.
The gig was part of the Manchester Literature Festival, which I didn’t and still don’t know much about, and because of this, the Theatre director guy came out and did a bit of an awkward interview and Q&A session with Kate. It was a bit unnecessary, but she handled it well and continued to be fascinating and pretty funny too.
Apparently she’s in a band too. I’d be interested to go to one of her more musical gigs next and see what those are like. I’m sure it’d be top!
Event: The Gaslight Anthem, with Bayside & Deer Tick supporting.
Location: Manchester Apollo
Went with: Josh and Jack
Bayside were the first support band, which was odd because I would have thought they were a bigger band than Deer Tick. It was probably because Deer Tick’s style of music fits Gaslight’s style a bit closer.
Missed the start of Bayside and they only had a short set. All of the songs I heard them play were newer ones that I didn’t recognise. I only really know the first (and second?) album. Prefer them acoustic anyway.
Deer Tick were a bit weird. The songs I had heard beforehand were cool, chilled-out folky songs. The songs they played were an odd combination of indie-rock and metal screams. Didn’t really like them. Recorded stuff is much better.
Didn’t really expect to like Gaslight as much as i did. I had owned the first couple of albums for years and loved them, but the third album didn’t really do it for me. I only got the latest 2 albums 2 days before the gig and I loved the album ‘Handwritten’ immediately but had no real opinion on the latest album ‘Get Hurt’.
We stood near the back at the start, and I was fully expecting to be content with nodding along with the songs I recognised from the back of the room. By the second song (‘The ’59 Sound’) I felt the immediate and pressing need to get more involved! Me and Josh went down the side of the room and managed to wiggle our way through a bit of the crowd so that we were more involved in the action. Jack didn’t know the band much, so he decided to stay at the back of the room.
I was blown away by Gaslight. The highlights for me were hearing ’45’ (possibly my favourite Gaslight song), and their unexpected renditions of ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath and ‘House Of The Rising Son’.
They didn’t play an encore but they did take the time at the start of the gig to inform everyone of this and explain that they had to stick to the curfew, so it was fine. They ended on ‘The Backseat’, which is probably my other favourite Gaslight song!
Overall, a really great gig.
Event: New Found Glory, with The Story So Far & State Champs supporting.
Location: Manchester Academy 1
Went with: Gaz (and Sarah and her mates)
This was one of the gigs I was most excited to see in 2014, mainly due to it having such an amazing lineup!
There were a couple of bands at the start of the gig that I hadn’t heard of, so I didn’t mind missing out on those. I got there in time to see State Champs, who had recently released their debut full-length album and which I thought was pretty great. I stood near the front on my own and loved it. I’d not had chance to see this band before, so I was unaware (but ultimately unsurprised) that the majority of this band’s fanbase was a weird mix between beard-and-flannel-wearing pop-punkers and 16-year-old girls. I didn’t mind though. I joined in. State Champs were top.
After State Champs were The Story So Far. I was really excited to see these guys because their first and second albums are both awesome angry pop-punk albums and I’ve been loving listening to them all year. They were just ok in the end, though. Maybe they were already quite a way into their tour and feeling pretty run-down or something, but the singer did not seem to be enjoying himself. He wore a massive parker coat on stage the whole time and screamed every song. Their songs do have a significant amount of screaming in them, but this is usually complemented by more melodic singing parts. I guess he just chose not to sing the melodic parts this time, which was a bit of a shame. I’d definitely give them another chance and see them again though, because their songs are awesome.
Before New Found Glory came on, me and Gaz decided that we were going to go up front and get a great view. By the time the band were due to come on we were maybe 3 rows of people from the stage and right in the centre. Prime view position, really. Also, as we would imminently discover, prime drink-spilling, pit position. Now, I know that a pit at a pop-punk show is going to be pretty tame as far as pits go, and in general it was, but the moment that me and Gary looked at each other when the first song started, each holding our pints one moment and each being flung apart, covered in beer the next, will stick with me for a long time. To us, it was like Moses parting the red sea, as we were pushed apart. We found it hilarious.
This was the first tour NFG had done since going from a 5-piece band to a 4-piece, so I was interested to see how they were going to adapt some of their songs to fit just the one guitar. Most of the songs they played were fine with the one guitar, but some songs like ‘Dressed To Kill’ really missed the second guitarist. I think they probably should have opted for a touring-guitarist to play the second guitar parts in those songs.
I was really happy to see them play ‘Stubborn’, though. It’s my favourite song from the new album and it’s a great example of how they are starting to progress their band with the new single-guitar line-up.
I’m excited to see what this band will do next
Event: Los Campesinos!
Location: Sound Control
Went with: Jack
There’s something really great about seeing a band manning their own merch table before their gig… (Although I suppose Los Campesinos have enough band members to run the entire bar, security and cloakroom themselves too!)
The gig was off to a bit of a bad start when some moronic guy in the crowd shouted a sexist comment about the band’s keyboard player after one of the first songs. The band dealt with it well though, with the lead singer putting the guy in his place, which received a loud cheer and applause from the non-sexist majority of the crowd! Still though, I felt a bit of hostility from the band towards the audience throughout the gig. It didn’t seem fun for them after that, which is a shame.
Me and Jack still enjoyed ourselves, though. This was the gig during which we both realised that we are old men, or at least older men than we had once been. We began the gig by squeezing ourselves through half of the crowd, only to realise a few songs later that we actually enjoyed ourselves much more whilst stood at the back of the (admittedly small) venue, near the bar, watching the band over everyone else’s heads! Also, this is the only position from which you can see all seven band members at once. Fact.
They played some old songs, which were good to hear. I’ve only seen them play live once before though, so it’s not like I’m one of the fans who have heard them play the same new songs over and over again…
I don’t think we really needed to hear two Christmas songs in a row though! I know that a LC Christmas song is probably as good as you’re going to get as far as Christmas songs go, but at a time of year when you are being played Christmas songs incessantly for days, it was just overkill!
I know this sounds like I didn’t really enjoy the gig, but I actually did! I had a great time! LC are a fantastic band that I would see over and over again, and only someone who is such a fan could give such harsh critique, I suppose!
Event: Taking Back Sunday
Location: The Ritz
Went with: Mike & Gaz (and Sarah and her mates)
This was actually the first gig in a while where we were that bothered about seeing the support acts play and were happy to instead just have a few casual drinks before TBS came on. We still nearly missed it though, and only got there as first song was playing!
I think the thing people always debate when they see Taking Back Sunday play is whether or not Adam Lazzara can still sing. I hear it all the time – “He can’t sing the songs any more!” or “He used to be able to sing but he’s lost it.” – I think this is just silly really. His voice has obviously changed from when he was 18 years old, but that doesn’t mean he can’t sing any more! I actually think he has a great voice now, and the songs that the band write now fit his voice amazingly. For instance, it’s hard to imagine a high-pitched 18-year-old Adam Lazzara singing a song like ‘Better Homes And Gardens’ with as much gruff, emotional energy.
Speaking of ‘Better Homes And Gardens’, before they played that song during this set, he took a moment to explain that they never usually play it because of how personal it was and how it previously would bring up bad memories for Lazzara. He then went on to explain his new take on the song – seeing it instead as a form of therapy, to help him work through the events that transpire in the lyrics of the song (which I think are about either a divorce or breaking off an engagement…). It’s an amazing song and I’m glad they decided to play it.
Taking Back Sunday gigs are always amazing arm-in-arm, singalong gigs. Especially, in this case, the last two songs – ‘Cute Without The ‘E’ (Cut From The Team)’ and ‘MakeDamnSure’.
I love this band so much. They’re definitely in my top 10 bands of all time. Possibly top 5. They’re consistently outstanding. I want to see them again right now.
2014 In Summary…
- Modern Baseball (both times!)
- Seeing Saves The Day play ‘At Your Funeral’ live.
Gigs In 2015…
Gigs I’m looking forward to in 2015:
- Knuckle Puck – Supporting Neck Deep in February.
- Interpol – Should be good, and different to the type of gig I usually attend!
- Foo Fighters – I’ve never seen them before and I feel like I should. So this will be my chance!
- Less Than Jake (and Yellowcard) – Yellowcard weren’t that great last time, but LTJ were fantastic. Can’t wait!
- Man Overboard – Gig was rescheduled from Nov 2014!
- Moose Blood – My first chance to see this amazing British band!
Bands I hope will announce UK tour dates in 2015:
- Against Me! – I’d absolutely love to see this band live! I bet they’re amazing.
- Say Anything – One of my favourite bands. I’ve not had chance to see them yet. They never seem to tour the UK!
- Modest Mouse – I can’t remember the last time these guys played in the UK. I heard recently that they might be releasing their first album in seven years in 2015, so hopefully they’ll do a massive tour to promote it!