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9 out of 10
As predicted, Rock City is already packed to the rafters, with Biffy Clyro having no problems selling out venues around the country right now. The band I’m most excited about tonight though are their touring partners, Manchester Orchestra. With the release of ’Mean Everything to Nothing’ earlier this year they set a bar, the height of which nobody expected, and one that few have so far matched. Walking on stage tonight sporting a red beanie hat that coupled with his huge beard makes him look for the most part like an oversized garden gnome, frontman Andy Hull and co. kick straight into new tune ’I’ve Got Friends’ which, despite the intro sounding like an excerpt from a children’s TV show, has more than enough attitude and melody to hold its own. Newest single ’Shake It Out’ is another slice of the same cake; an instantly catchy yet edgy rock song that takes hold and won't let go.
’Pride’ is something that needs to be experienced live; keyboardist Chris Freeman ditches his keyboard for a second drum kit and the two drummers face each other while pounding the drums in ritualistic tribal fashion; all this in between a beast of a down-tuned riff and a finale that does justice to arguably one of the strongest songs they’ve ever written.
Ending with the epic pairing of ’Everything To Nothing’ and ’The River’ is an unexpected yet welcome surprise, and for ten minutes my feet are glued to the floor (although whether that’s the spilt booze and god-knows-what-else remains to be seen) in awe of the Manchester Orchestra live experience.
Such raw emotion in an indie rock band rarely comes to the forefront, but Manchester Orchestra effortlessly oozes it. An oh-too-short set from one of my favourite discoveries of 2009. A "must see" for 2010 if you missed them this year.