GHUM: The Deaf Institute, Manchester 17th January 2023.

I’ve been lucky enough to see GHUM three times now, and I can 100% confirm and swear on my cat’s life that they just get better every single time. Their debut record is one I religiously play every single day. The atmosphere, the sound, the emotion- everything on this record is divine. So of course, they are going to channel this perfectly live, right? Of course!

On Tuesday night they supported Big Joanie at the Deaf Institute- a venue perfect for their sound. The first time they played Manchester was at the hottest venue in the history of venues- The Castle Hotel. How no one passed out from heat stroke that night I don’t understand. They played Fac251 last month and that too was exceptional. The Manchester show was something else. With it being a support slot, the setlist wasn’t as long as you’d hope for but what they gave us perfectly showed us why they are one of the best bands around- on record and live.

This was the last night of the tour and to make it even tougher- it was Vicki’s last show with the band. Whether you’ve seen them live or listened to the record- you will know just how an incredible drummer Vicki is. She is going to be missed a hell of a lot, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Whoever they have next on drums will be so lucky to play alongside such incredible musicians and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

As I’ve said many times before when writing about GHUM- they just have this sound that blows you away. For so many on Tuesday evening, this may have been their first time seeing the band and judging by how the crowd reacted to the songs- I think they have definitely got a new bunch of fans behind them. They are the kind of band that make you wish you were in a band but at the same time- you just want to spend your days constantly at their shows. They have this magical sound that truly comes alive when you’re at their show. The songs take on a more powerful meaning and start to mean more to you with every listen, and every performance. They put so much of themselves into their shows, and it’s just an honor to watch them and see them grow and grow.

Songs like Perro, Rivers and Some People are blasted out and are performed in a way that makes you feel like this is life or death- you feel on edge in the most wonderful way possible. GHUM have this way of taking you into this strange, dark and gorgeous world where no other band has ever dared to. You can’t help but let them suck you in. Over and over. The sheer intensity in every song is just divine. Laura has this gravelly tone in her voice and this strength (and it’s apparent in certain songs) and you feel that she belts out every single word the way she NEEDS you to hear them. Backed up by Vicki beating the shit out of the drums, MJ being the slickest bassist you’ll ever see and Jojo being the best guitarist in this country- it is obvious that GHUM are the most thrilling band around and you can see why a band like Big Joanie took them on for the ride during this tour. The power both bands have is insane and something that doesn’t happen all too often. These bands are rare. They are important and will take you off into their own world where whatever you see outside of your window doesn’t matter in those moments.

For me, GHUM have that Seventeen Seconds (The Cure) energy in every single song- the hypnotic sounds and eerie vocals, and the poetic lyrics. I honestly don’t think really small venues are going to be able to contain them for much longer and the show on Tuesday captured that perfectly. Nobody stood still and all was okay in the world during those 30/40 minutes.

THE VACANT LOTS: SOUP, Manchester 3rd December 2022.

Finally going back to SOUP to see a band I absolutely adore after a tiring week was just what I needed. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen The Vacant Lots live or how many times I’ve written about them. They are a band that I hold very dear to me- they’ve got me through hell and back. They just have something about them that makes you feel like you’ve escaped to another world. Music is there to be relatable and to give us some escapism.

The Vacant Lots open their set with the euphoric Departure.  This makes you feel like the band are about to guide you into their world with this one- the perfect way to open their set. Departure has such a soothing energy to it; it does make you feel like you’re ready for takeoff.

The set is a blissful mix of old and new- showing us exactly why they are one of the best bands you’ll ever see live. The set has all the greats; Mad Mary Jones, Fracture and 6AM, and the thing that just leaves you in awe is how talented Jared and Brian are. Brian is like s Scientist on stage and Jared is the Punk who holds the guitar like a weapon. No blood was shed this time (if you’ve seen them play live before, you’ll know what I mean!) The only downside was that the venue wasn’t packed. It rightfully should have been packed. It should have been a sweatbox, but those who were there evidently loved what they were witnessing.

I’ve got a handful of bands I could happily watch play live forever and not get bored of them- The Vacant Lots are one of them for sure. Every single time I’ve seen them play I’ve just been left in awe of what I’ve witnessed.

The way 6AM goes right into Mad Mary Jones was ridiculous. The whole set is slick, but this transition was something else. Noise after noise. My hearing right now isn’t great but I’m not bothered about it- you expect it from their shows. Especially if you stand by the speaker!

Never Satisfied is a prime example of Jared and Brian’s songs are sheer poetry with a bite. There’s parts of the set where Brian unleashes hell on the cymbal and drum, and Jared styles out annihilating the guitar in a way that you rarely witness. They take their turn in vocally delivering the songs, and the chemistry they have is evident on record and it’s truly something else when you see it live.

For me, The Vacant Lots are just exceptional live and the show tonight fully showed that. There may have been less than 20 of us in the room but they played their hearts out, and as if they were playing to a stadium full of people. That’s when you know a band truly have it. They’re just a pleasure to see live and if are ever given the chance to see them- take it.

GHUM: Fac251, Manchester 18th November 2022.

There are bands that you could watch live countless times, and you’ll never ever get sick of seeing them. Last night was only my second time seeing GHUM, and I think it was their second time playing Manchester (I might be wrong there, sorry if I am!) They played the legendary venue that is FAC251, and I can safely say that no other venue in town could have suited them more (maybe Soup Kitchen.)

GHUM’s debut record, Bitter came out in June this year and not a day goes by where I’m not playing it. It’s a perfect record, and a stunning debut. How does their live show favour? Exactly the same! GHUM are a band that you just have to see live. Their music was made to be witnessed in a live setting; especially in dark basement venues.

Although their set was cut short slightly- it did not change how amazing the gig was. Every single song was performed in a way that made to be heard in this setting. A small, intimate venue. Even if someone was being a bit overzealous with the smoke machine with the first few songs! Honestly, GHUM are a band that you know will keep getting better and better with whatever they do and whatever sound they have. Songs like California and Some People rip right through, Perro is electrifying live. Deceiver and Bitter was out of this world. Bad Brain is played with this fire and urgency that sticks with you well after the show is over. The whole set is an exploration of how and why they are one of the most exciting bands around. You cannot compare their live shows to anything else- it goes way beyond anything else you may feel from hearing them on record. They create this world that you just want to live in. This dark yet comforting world.

There’s this energy they all have that just lures you in, and every song they hit you with makes you feel like you are listening to them for the first time. For me they have got that same presence as the likes of TwoFiftyFour, Crows, L.A. Witch and Warpaint (basically just named bands I love and adore but y’know!) They make you wish you had even a tiny fraction of musical talent. GHUM are the best at what they do, and if you ever get the chance to see them live- you have GOT to take it. They make it seem so effortless. I mean Jojo is one of the greatest guitarists I’ve ever seen, Vicki is one of those drummers that just leave you in awe and Marina is such a slick bassist. Laura’s vocals will stay with you- she’s got this gentle tone but when she delivers songs like 1000 Men; there’s this beautiful growl to it that just stuns you.

Like I said, this band are the best at what they do. Nothing and no one comes close. The venue may not have been totally sold out but that didn’t matter at all- they made you feel like it was just you and them. Nothing around you mattered. There was an older couple near me, and they were dancing and moving in ways that most of us could dream of. For me, they summed up the euphoria that live music gives you and that GHUM gives you.

There are bands that you discover over time that become a massive part of you. You look at your record collection, and you wonder what it’d be like if you never heard them. There’d be a gap for this band, but you’ve yet to find them. I hope that anyone who ever listens to GHUM or discovers them for the first time feels like they’ve found the missing piece to their music jigsaw. I’ve not been to many gigs this year, but I can definitely place last night’s show up there with one of the best. Compared to their show in Manchester from 2019, you can definitely see and hear the growth in confidence.

GHUM are an absolute joy to listen to and when you see them live, that joy quickly turns to euphoria. The kind of band that makes you want to disregard your daily responsibilities and just follow them on tour. Hopefully it won’t be 3 years before they next come back to Manchester, but it was most certainly worth the wait!

AMYL AND THE SNIFFERS: Albert Hall, Manchester. 31st May 2022.

Of all the gigs I’ve ever been to at the Albert Hall, I can say with as much confidence as possible, that last night’s show courtesy of Bruise Control and Amyl and The Sniffers, was the best. From the atmosphere, to the sound to the bands, to the crowd. Everything about the bands last night and the crowd was just divine. I don’t think the Albert Hall will EVER see a show like this again.

This was the first time I’d ever seen Bruise Control live, and my god they made you feel like it was THEIR headline show. Give it time, and they’ll be playing venues like this all the time. The band had their family in the crowd and seeing the singer’s mum have the time of her life whilst singing and dancing her heart out to the phenomenal sounds her son’s band makes was just beautiful. Looking at the crowd and seeing so many people lose their shit to this band was everything we all needed and more. At one point Amy and Gus were stood behind me watching Bruise Control, and to see everyone in the room just lapping up this exceptional band was a sight to behold and treasure. You could see how much this meant to Bruise Control and those that adore them.

Around 9pm, Amyl and The Sniffers bounced onto the stage and immediately tore the roof off the Albert Hall. The energy from their set was an extension of what Bruise Control gave us. Punk music with a bold message and a sound loud enough to deafen you for days. As soon as they opened with GFY (Go Fuck Yourself) the crowd downstairs turned into a sea of bodies swaying, sweating and throwing themselves and each other around. In just 50 minutes, I can’t begin to tell you how many people were being pulled out of the crowd. One being Bruise Control’s singer- who I think was pulled out 5/6 times. To see everyone have this much fun and more importantly- being kind to each other when someone fell or wasn’t too steady was a true sentiment as to what Punk is.

The setlist was a healthy mix of old and new songs. So many songs were a highlight for me. Their performance of Maggot, Got You, Some Mutts and Security were INSANE. There were tamer moments, for instance the song Knifey, that showed a different side to Amy’s vocals. Yes, she belts those proper Punk anthems out, but on Knifey she tells the frustrations of just wanting to walk home peacefully without feeling threatened. She does it in a way that just simply explains the frustrations but delivers it in a way that breaks your heart.

The energy this band have is infectious. The crowd feed off them and vice versa. I saw Amyl and The Sniffers play their first Manchester show at the Deaf Institute a few years ago, and it blew my mind but last night’s show was something else. Maybe it’s because we’ve been waiting years for this or maybe it’s because seeing this band live is the most liberating feeling you’ll get. Amy bounces round the stage like the Duracell bunny who has had too many lemonades; at one point she takes a shirt thrown to her from the crowd and wraps it round her face, like a makeshift balaclava.  She also brings out the bodybuilder stance as well whilst Gus, Dec and Bryce deafen the crowd with their sound.

Every single song is screamed back at the band, and it is the most beautiful sound you’ll ever see. The band totally own the stage, and you can really feel the love they have for their fans, music and each other. The bond they have is just wonderful to watch and being able to see this is a real honour. Some songs are belted out louder than others- from the crowd; such as Guided by Angels, Hertz and Gacked on Anger. The whole set is perfect and I could have happily watched 12 hours of this. Bliss. Absolute bliss. You cannot help but want and need more.

You know how everyone claims to be at the Sex Pistols show at the Free Trade Hall, then went on to form bands? I’m pretty sure that the show at the Albert Hall will have the same impact. There is no way you could have attended the show last night and not been left with a fire in your tummy. Watching them last night, I felt like I did when I first Iggy Pop and The Stooges for the first time. Amy has the same effortlessly slick manners as Iggy on stage. Gus is one of those bassists that make you wish you were as cool as him. Bryce is up there as being one of the best drummers I’ve ever EVER seen live. Dec absolutely rips as a guitarist and controls the crowd effortlessly with his sound.

Two of the most exciting bands in the world ripped the Albert Hall a new one last night, and nothing and no one will ever be the same again.

Punk is not dead. It’ll never die.

L.A. WITCH: The Pink Room @ Yes, Manchester 18th May 2022.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been right at the very front at a gig. And it’s been a long time since a gig left me a little bit deaf. God bless L.A. Witch for being one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to.

This show was meant to happen in 2020. We know what caused the delays, but last night the moment finally came.

I saw L.A. Witch play their first ever UK show when they played the Shacklewell Arms in London. It was ridiculous. I couldn’t believe that I was finally seeing them; I genuinely thought they would be one of those bands that I love that never find their way to the UK. I’ve been writing about the band since 2011, and they just blow my mind every single time. I adore their sound, and I love how they transport you into their world. A spooky but laid-back world. Sign me up! I never want to leave.

Last night, they played the Pink Room at Yes. The most important thing about this venue is that it has AIR CON. IT HAS AIR CON. You have no idea how important this is. The ultimate comfort. Let me be cold all of the time please, thank you.

L.A. Witch blast out all the hits. They tear the roof off with Untitled, Sexorexia, Dark Horse, Baby In Blue Jeans. They just kept the anthems coming. With a band like them, it’s difficult to work out who to focus on. Iritia is THE coolest bass player you’ll ever see. Ellie is up there with the greats on the drums- the sheer volume of the drumming was just incredible. Then you have their friend Lauren helping out on guitar who just looks and sounds effortlessly cool. Then Sade is front and center. The guitar is her machine gun. Her vocals are bullets the band look like they could probably knock you out, but we all know that they are just the loveliest and most beautiful humans around. I cannot compare their live shows to anything else in this world. It is like an outer body experience. I danced. My body hurt this morning when I woke up. The signs of a good night. There is so much passion and love in what they do, and how they play/their sound just makes you wish you were as cool as them. There’s no denying just how out of this world I Wanna Lose is live and you cannot help but just move your limbs and whatever else in ways that feel right to you.

L.A. Witch are most certainly one of the most dedicated and hard-working bands around. They seem to have been working and perfecting their sound for well over a decade, and in that time, they have played some amazing venues, toured with some excellent bands and won over plenty of new fans. The atmosphere in the room last night was gorgeous. This show was a long time coming, and let’s hope it won’t be too long for the next tour.

They ended on their enigmatic Get Lost, and the way this sounds like absolutely tops the recorded version. The distorted vocals, the reverb, the sheer loudness- everything.  It is just perfect and such a great way to end the set. They play the best modern day love song; Motorcycle Boy and you just feel like the band are taking you on a road trip on a dusty road into a world that only they know of. Kicking off the show, they played Kill My Baby Tonight which is such a great way to open the show. They could have opened with any song to be honest and it would have had us all hooked immediately. The heaviness in Kill My Baby Tonight stays through the whole set even on lighter songs like Baby In Blue Jeans. There’s this effortlessly slick feel to True Believers and Gen-Z. Your eyes don’t leave the stage at all, and sure they might be darting from one band member to another, but the admiration for them all is always there.

In an ideal world, I could afford to go to every single show they do wherever in the world. Even though they may not end up on this side of the world too often, you just treasure it even more so when it happens. There’s no denying that L.A. Witch will always be regarded as not only one of the best bands in the world ever, but most certainly one of the best bands you will ever see live.

WARPAINT: Albert Hall, Manchester 12/05/2022

If you’ve ever seen Warpaint live, then what I’m about to write will probably be old news to you. If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written about Warpaint, that too will also be old news. But it doesn’t matter. My point with this is to just tell anyone who reads this how amazing the band are. On record it is obvious they are brilliant, but live? Well, that’s a different level altogether.

My love for Warpaint started when I first heard the Exquisite Corpse many many moons ago. I felt like I had found the band that I needed my whole life. Warpaint just make eveyrything better. They fill you with joy, love and hope. Their laid-back sound is utterly transformed in a live setting and it’s pretty much life-changing.

They open with Stars; which is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The song soothes the soul. It calms you and makes you feel like all is okay. I can’t describe how euphoric this song is live, but to be honest with you- the whole set is sheer euphoria. The way Stars goes gently into Champion is too much! It should be a crime to be this good. There are so many moments during the set that just leave you in awe. I had to stop myself from crying many times. I felt complete happiness at this show, and I’ve not felt that way in a hell of a long time. But let’s not get too personal now. I think part of the joy I felt was down to how long I’ve waited to see them live again. The set was divine. I mean of course I’d be happy if they sang the alphabet for 5 hours straight but this set was just all I wanted and more. There was a strong mix of old and new songs.

My absolute favourite moment of the show was New Song going into Disco//Very. Those two songs makes me SO stupidly happy and to get them back to back in this way was like winning the lottery but way better. I was sat at the top (it was the VIP section and I felt so awkward sitting there but being able to watch the crowd move and sing their hearts out was so beautiful. The most beautiful crowd I’d ever seen!) Those two songs are wat heaven must sound like. You cannot help but watch the stage with such love and admiration. I adore how much they love each other, and this comes across every single time. The moment that really shows this is when all four of them stand at the front of the stage and sing Melting together. I’m pretty sure that’s how angels sing you know. As much as I love rowdy Punk shows, the balance I get from bands like Warpaint ease the mind. They are such a gentle band and without sounding like a cliched fool- they have never sounded better! The confidence is stunning. Emily’s vocals sound stronger than ever- this is evident on Hard To Tell You. She hits the high notes (I’m getting goose bumps writing about it!) and my god it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Pretty apt that they played an old church, right? This band have serious healing powers. Hard To Tell You is probably my favourite off the new record, and seeing it live was something else. I thought this would have been the one that made me proper bawl, but all I could do was soak up the moment and be in awe of Emily’s vocals.

At various parts of the show, you find yourself focusing on certain band members. Love Is To Die- you find yourself being in awe of Theresa’s vocals and presence. Like I mentioned already, Hard To Tell You leaves you fully engrossed with Emily’s voice. Jenny during Elephants and Beetles just blows your mind. Stella’s drumming on Disco//Very is just mind-blowing. These are just a couple of examples, but to be honest- the whole show just blew my mind. If I could live in a moment where I am constantly at a Warpaint show- I’d take it. I’m not sure how I’ve focused at work today because in my mind, body and soul- I’m at the show.

Something I’ve always admired about the band is how close they are. There’s this unity they have that makes you wish you were part of the band. I can’t really put into words what it’s like, but if you’ve seen them live- you’ll know exactly what I mean. Melting really summed this up. The way they stood round Emily as she played her iconic guitar, and they all created a different side to this song. I loved watching Jenny sway during every song. Her eyes closed as she sways to the music. There’s something about the sound like her bass makes that makes you instantly move just like her. Close your eyes and sway. The unbreakable bond they have is so beautiful to watch and you cannot help but smile like a total idiot whilst watching them.

Until next time, I’ll be keeping this show very close to my heart.

CROWS @YES Manchester 8th April 2022.

Friday night. The end of one of the most stressful and mentally challenging weeks of my life. Nothing bad, just a lot. A release of sorts was needed. I’m not a drinker, so that’s not my preferred route. Too exhausted to go to the gym. Too mentally alert to try go to sleep. My only option was to go see a band who I’ve dying to see for so long. A band that are just divine to watch, to listen to.

Crows played the Pink Room at YES on Friday night. An upgrade from last time, where they played the basement. I hear Wembley is next. Has to be. Anyway, I won’t get ahead of myself just yet. I want you to really imagine being at this gig because it was truly one of the most healing and ethereal experiences ever (live music wise.) Now, I’ve been obsessing over their new record Beware Believers over the past week or so, and their debut record Silver Tongues for me, was one of the best records of 2019. They’re just such a fantastic band and their live shows are like a religious experience/outer body experience. It definitely wasn’t from this planet at all!

I think like everyone else in the room, we could have happily watched Crows play for hours. The around an hour set wasn’t enough. It’s never enough! But my god that band give everything they have on more on stage. On record you can feel the urgency in James’ vocals, but put the band on stage and everything comes together and it is delivered with this ferociousness that just makes you questions everything around you. His vocals live are phenomenal. The words are screamed and sung with such passion; as if his life depends on it. As if YOUR life depends on it. The words hit harder when you see the band live, and the song for me that made me feel like I had been baptised or whatever was definitely Healing. That song has been on repeat since the record came out, and I’ve got not intention of changing that right now. The lyrics are heartbreaking because they are true, and when you witness this song live it just changes everything for you. Maybe that’s part of the healing?

When the band unleash the old gem that is The Itch (I’m not doing this in order of the setlist) I’m pretty sure I am just covered in goosebumps at this point. It’s out of this world. On the same level of this intensity, we’ve got Garden of England- which is sang back at the band in the most beautiful way. Then you’ve got the likes of Slowly Separate and Room 156 that just shatter your heart but they fix this part of you that you didn’t know you needed. I just think that Crows are the most intense and euphoric bands around and I cannot urge you enough to go see them live. We all end up finding a band that we just have to always see live whenever we can, and I can confirm that Crows are 100% one of those bands.

There’s just something about the atmosphere they create and the way it all just really hits you in the gut. Steve and Jith both have this way of using the guitar and bass to add this unearthly loudness to the show that makes you feel like you are being carried out into the deep unknown. Sam beats the shit out of the drums which fit perfectly with the way James delivers the poetic and intense lyrics/songs. For me, they just capture everything I love about music. Seeing them live has made me appreciate and love their music more than I already do, and I honestly didn’t think that was possible. An absolute joy and honour to see Crows live.

Also, something I want to mention was that Safe Gigs For Women were at the show. It’s a shame that we need them, but thank God they exist. The work they do is remarkable. If you’re able to donate or volunteer with them, please do: https://sgfw.org.uk/

And of course, if you have the chance to see Crows live- take it. Grab that chance; it’ll be the best thing you ever do.

METZ @ YES, Manchester 3rd April 2022.

Sunday. The perfect day to see one of the loudest bands around live. Even better when you have the Monday off to make sure you fully recover and can hear properly. I think the last time I saw METZ live was at YES, and it was such a great show. How was last nights show? Just as great- if not better.

The bands and fans have waited around 2 years for this tour, and it was absolutely worth the wait. METZ are a band that you listen to, and just let everything go to. I didn’t realise how badly I needed to see a band this loud, and when it happened- it was sheer euphoria. I wasn’t brave enough to get right into the crowd, but I had the time of my life on my lonesome at the back. The Pink Room at YES is probably one of the finest venues in this beautiful city. I’d put it up there with the likes of the Moth Club in London. It’s got this feel to it that just makes you feel like you are where you are supposed to be at that time. Anyway, profound shit aside- let’s talk the setlist.

METZ tear the roof off with Pulse- a proper smack in the face jam. A perfect way to open the set. Now, for some this 11 song set may have been too short (I mean I agree- I could happily watch them play for hours and still want more.) but the energy these 3 have on stage is insane. I just want to touch on how phenomenal a drummer Hayden is. On record, you know he’s great but bloody hell when you see METZ live, you truly get to witness how talented they are. Hayden’s drumming is unlike anything else I’ve seen- I can’t even give you a reference of who to liken him to but I promise you- he’s one of those drummers that will go on to influence so many. METZ are just a delight to watch, and the second their show starts you know it’s going to be something that stays with you. Alex’s vocals whilst annihilating the shit out the guitar are a sight to behold. He’s truly something else, and accompanying this you’ve got Chris making the bass sound like a lethal weapon. If you’ve never seen METZ live, then you’re missing out.

The setlist was perfect- cannot fault it. Not like I’d want to anyway! We were treated to Hail Taxi, The Swimmer, Eraser, new song Demolition Row, obviously Get Off (which was dedicated to the support Psychic Graveyard) and ended on A Boat To Drown In. There’s hardly any small talk here (and I’m all for that- bloody hate small talk) and they just keep the songs coming, and getting louder and louder with each song. YES is the perfect venue for a band like METZ. The sound there is great, and it’s a Pink room- what more could you want!

I think their show last night truly showed why METZ are not just one of the best band around full stop, but one of the most thrilling bands to see live. I know they aren’t to everyone’s taste and some may shy away from music as loud as this, but there’s no denying how talented METZ are. Canada’s finest for sure. Every record is a progression in sound, and is a masterpiece, and when you see them live you can’t help but wonder how the hell do only 3 people make this much noise? I’d put the show from last night as being one of the loudest shows I’ve ever been to. Top 3 with Melvins and The Jesus And Mary Chain. Easily.

The show last night was truly worth the wait, and everything you could possibly want from seeing a band that you adore. If annual leave and money wasn’t an issue- I’d happily follow METZ on tour. They are a joy to watch- lets hope we don;t have to wait so long for the next tour!

IDLES: Manchester Academy. 4th December 2019.

idles

I apologise in advance for potentially how erratic and lengthy this will be. Last night’s show went beyond meaning the world to me, and although I may not be able to eloquently put into words what the show meant to me, I know that there is an incredible group of people who fully understand. That group of people are the AF Gang. Thank you.

Prior to the show last night Joe, Lee and Bobo walked past me. I stupidly (or sensibly) used my self-control to not go up to them and spurt out words of love and ask for a photo. I think part of me couldn’t believe it. Not that these real people walked past me, but because I was a couple of hours away from seeing them on stage. It hadn’t sunk in yet; the tickets were last minute (and I owe it to two complete strangers who have hearts of gold.)

Sadly, I didn’t make all the 45s set but what I could hear was truly wonderful and it sounded so energetic. But I did catch all METZ’s set. I think anyone who knows me, knows I love two bands a hell of a lot- METZ and IDLES. I saw METZ earlier this year when they played the Pink Room at YES (USA Nails supported, and again this was a dream line up.) I was blown away and I was left struggling to hear the day after. It was incredible. Second time around in a much bigger venue- they sounded the same. Full of this beautiful rowdiness that just makes you want to pick up a guitar and make a lot of noise. They are one of the best live bands around, and to see everyone else react the same was a beautiful thing too. Songs like Get Off and Acetate were sheer madness, and of course just made me fall in love with them all over again. If you ever get to see them, GO. In any capacity, just go. They’ll shake your bones and shatter your skull in the best way possible.

The main event. The bit where my heart beats faster in a good way, not from having a panic attack. The part where my life probably changes. Where it all kicks in.

IDLES take to the stage and open with Colossus. If you ever want to see a bunch of passionate, beautiful people rush to the front upon hearing the opening chords to an anthem- go to an IDLES show. This was the first time in a very long time where I was in the midst of the crowd. I normally stay back or near the side. I don’t do big venues usually. But I can safely say that I felt so fucking safe at this show. IDLES played 18 songs, and I’m pretty sure we would have begged them to stay longer and play them all again. They are a band that just make me feel so fucking happy and I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They are a band that say the things I probably can’t, and just voice out my worries and emotions better than I ever could. They are my outlet and my safety net. I have never sung (well, shouted) like this at a show before. This morning my body hurts and my throat hurts in the best way possible. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Every single song is a highlight (we got QUEENS for fucks sake!!!) and I wanted to stay in the moment forever. Is this how someone feels when they see their child for the first time? I think this is probably better. From the crowd chanting IDLES prior to them coming on stage, from Bobo ending up in the crowd to Joe ending up with someone’s shoe on stage- this was truly the best gig I’ve ever, ever been to. Sorry Nick Cave, I think you’ve bene overtaken! The crowd chanting “Oh Jeremy Corbyn” to the mass sing along of Wonderwall and All I Want For Christmas Is You. It was the most loving and precious atmosphere; I just wanted to be immersed in it forever.

This was my first IDLES show and it won’t be my last. There is something about seeing them for the first time that just gives you that kick up the arse that you need. Everything that this band and us fans stand for is something to treasure and to pass on. There were kids at the gigs with their parents, and if it was their first ever gig then everything else in life has a lot to live up to! I loved that during Rottweiler birthday girl, Catherine got on stage to play guitar with them. To see a fellow AF Ganger up on stage with the band and just ripping the stage apart was beautiful. That’s how you do a birthday and close a show.

Slow Savage broke my heart. This was the only moment I cried during the show. There is something about the way Joe shouts, “I’m the worst lover that you’ll ever have” that rips you apart. It’s the sheer openness and vulnerability in their songs that lures you in and wraps itself around your heart. This song is a prime example of it. But there is something else about their shows that will wrap itself around your heart- the strong feeling of unity.

Danny Nedelko is sang like a football chant on the terraces. This song means a hell of a lot to me and so many. It’s a perfect example of what makes this country great- the people who come here to better themselves. Our beautiful immigrants. We love you and you are welcome here. Always.

I feel I am missing key moments from the show, but I’ve had 5 hours sleep and a bit of a migraine brewing. I don’t care. I have never felt so alive as I did last night. The atmosphere was safe and full of love- just how it should be. We got Queens for fucks sake! I’m still delirious over that; incredible. Last night changed something in me. I’m not entirely sure what just yet, but something will emerge I’m sure. It has to. Since losing my Gran 3 months ago, I’ve not had hold of any emotion I have; everything has been a downward spiral in my head but last night I had a glimmer of stability. I have to go with that.

There is also nothing more satisfying and therapeutic than screaming along to their song Mother, and yelling “MOTHER! FUCKER!” with a few thousand people. Nothing can beat that.

Keep fucking going, and love yourself. LOVE.YOURSELF.

FONTAINES D.C. : O2 Ritz, Manchester 19th November 2019.

 

fontainesdc

 

“A sell-out is someone who becomes a hypocrite in the name of money. An idiot is someone who lets their education do all of their thinking. A phony is someone who demands respect for the principles they effect. A dilettante is someone who can’t tell the difference between fashion and style. Charisma is exquisite manipulation, and money is a sandpit of the soul.”

 

Recently crowned by Rough Trade as being their record of the year, Dogrel by the mighty Fontaines D.C. is a record that you need to witness in a live setting. If like me, you’ve been playing it almost religiously since it came out this year you will know just how powerful this record is. It’s romantic, it’s brutal, it’s honest and it is powerful. There’s only one way to play it, and that’s loud. In a live setting, it becomes something else. I knew it was going to blow my mind, but my god it exceeded everything and anything I thought about this beautiful band.

Their set is basically Dogrel in full, and every song is performed with this ferocious energy that makes you believe in every single word that comes out of Grian’s mouth. He’s a poet yet he delivers the words in a way of a preacher, it’s absolutely hypnotising and such a great thing to witness. As I watch the band, I can’t help but feel that they have the same energy and presence that The Birthday Party had. Grian stalks the stage like a young Nick Cave; Carlos and Conor are like Rowland S. Howard and Mick Harvey/Blixa.

 

 

Fontaines D.C. are unapologetically loud, and they touch on subjects that most tend to shy away from. Their songs touch on the sexism in the workplace to dreaming of being big to black cab drivers. There is so much reality in their songs, and this reality is something that many would fear or try to shy away from. No one at the Ritz last night was shying away from any of this. Pints of beer were flying; middle aged men were screaming the songs at the top of their lungs and the kids at the front were no doubt soaking up everything Fontaines were giving us to create their own noise in the future. I sure hope they do.

Songs like Too Real, Sha Sha Sha and Liberty Belle see the venue absolutely erupt in euphoria. We all know that this is one of the greatest records of the year and beyond, but trust me it all changes when you see it live and when you are surrounded with people who love this record, and this band as much as you do. You feel at home and oddly secure. Chequeless Reckless was my highlight for sure, but I’m going to touch on the set closer Big shortly which was equally as powerful. So, Chequless Reckless goes beyond being a song; it is a vital piece of poetry that should be studied. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future their lyrics find their way onto syllabuses in schools. Fontaines are no doubt our future and are showing us a side that we need to be exposed to. You can see their world anywhere, but so many chose to ignore it. Don’t. Just don’t. I love the way the band just play with this urgency and dedication to make these songs be heard. Grian’s vocals takeover the venue, but when you see the sheer devotion in the way Tom beats the living shit out of the drums and how Conor treats his bass like a machine gun not to forget how Carlos and Conor thrash their guitars about with this sheer Punk energy that would make even Johnny Ramone proud if he was here. If you were at this show last night, chances are that like me, your love and obsession for Fontaines has gone through the roof.

The band end with Dogrel’s opener, Big. In a way, this has become a bit of an anthem. All their songs have done this. Fontaines could easily sell out arenas there’s no denying that, and maybe this will now be the last time we get to see them in a venue this size but their songs and the way they perform them do create a sense of intimacy and sheer devotion between the band and the fans. Big is THAT song that will inspire many to get out of their current town and to make it elsewhere. Anyone can do it, and the self-belief that Fontaines have, and had got them where they are now. Big is the song you play to pump yourself up or to just give yourself reassurance that you can make something of yourself, even if your beginnings aren’t grand.

 

 

If you’re looking for a band that will blow your mind, burst your eardrums and leave you covered in other people’s drinks- then go to a Fontaines show. It was most certainly one of those shows that you know people will be talking about in decades from now; it was memorable for so many reasons, and as time goes on those reasons will evolve. People will start bands because of this show, people will create their own poetry because of this show, this band and Dogrel. There is no denying just how brilliant Fontaines are and of course, they deserve to be big. Last night’s show went beyond proving that. Definitely one of my favourite shows of the year.