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Reverend and The Makers – Manchester Academy

Manchester Academy
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7.0 10 Good

Now to be quite honest I was a little shocked when I saw that this lot were playing Manchester’s Club Academy.  The last time I’d seen them they were supporting Kasabian and since then have done support duties with High Flying Birds so I wasn’t expecting such a small venue.  Perhaps it was their choice for the select four date tour and they are moving to the bigger HMV Manchester Ritz for a full UK tour in October.  However smaller venues are always good as long as they’re full and thankfully this one was sold out all over town for a good while beforehand.

Arriving in time to catch the support from local lads Frazer King the crowd were already massing around the stage to listen to a solid set provided by one of Manchester’s best bands (not my call, this from Mr McClure himself).  How can I describe them?  Well they don’t seem to like the British Army or the Church from the song break meanderings and I could detect elements of The Specials in there.  However I’m going to completely gloss over that ommpah band moment and recommend that if you have the chance see them gigging and you won’t be short changed.

Onto the main event.  I had expected an audience made up of students – the venue is in the Student Union building – but not so.  There were a mixture of ages with the die hards at the front and the more mature towards the bar.  After what seemed a long interval a lot of the crowd were restless and I had a sinking feeling that the gig was going to be spent watching how many people were texting.  The band finally appeared just after 9.30 launching into an enthusiastic set with an equally enthusiastic crowd.  “We’re back” shouted the Rev and it was hard to disagree as the crowd that had moments before been disinterested turned before my eyes into a mini “front at Glastonbury”.  Two songs in and it was time for Baseline their last single which worked well within the space.  Then the tracks were coming thick and fast hinting at ska, funk, a touch of Giorgio Moroder and Blondie’s Heart of Glass in there.  The crowd continued to stomp their way through the set and to the casual observer you could have been forgiven for thinking that the floor near the stage was in fact a trampoline.

After introducing the two new members to the fold in bassist Jo Carnell and drummer Ryan Jenkinson it was time for the new single The Wrestler, a big slice of bass driven dancing music with pithy lyrics and a damn catchy chorus.  This track has the potential to be massive and if it is any indication of the style of the new album then surely this will be the last time I’ll be seeing them in a small venue.  The exertion of this song finally persuaded the Rev to remove his coat and it was into Miss Brown with its ska influence – at one point I wouldn’t have been surprised if Suggs had arrived on stage – followed by keyboard driven a B side Abandoned.  Now it’s not often you see bands play B sides for the long term fans, they’re usually recorded and gather dust in the royalties drawer; it was a nice touch.  Armchair Detective was up next and was it just me or was there a bit of The Jam and The Clash in there?  Blimey the influences are varied with this lot, even an old boss got a mention to introduce the next track, although being called “a bit of a bell end” might not have been the mention that he would have liked. Next it’s the ever popular He Said He Loved Me – which was the one that brought them to my attention when I first saw them and a track that should’ve ensured their ascension.  Rounding off the set with the utter onslaught of sound that is Silence is Talking the curfew Cinderellas left the stage minutes before 11 pm with Rev doing his usual routine of grabbing a guitar and holding an impromptu sing-a-long outside much to the delight of an already psyched crowd. (read more below)…

Photos: Brian Merrigan

All in all this was a tour de force gig from a band who although are set to support The Red Hot Chilli Peppers in June surely must be due headliner duties in a large venue on their own merit.  The only criticism I could have was that the vocals on a good few of the songs were a little on the low side being drowned by bass and drums and this criticism was overheard from a number of conversations on the crush to exit.  That said nice to see them back and back with a bang; it’s been too long.

Set List:
Open Your Window
Baseline
Bandits
Warts N All
State of Things
No Soap (In A Dirty War)
Shine The Light
Heavyweight Champion of The World
The Wrestler
Miss Brown
Abandoned
Armchair Detectives
Out of The Shadows
1+0
He Said He Loved Me
The Machine
Silence is Talking

Reverend and The Makers are supporting The Red Hot Chili Peppers on 23 and 24 June and appearing at The Strummer Of Love Joe Strummer 10th Anniversary Festival running 17 – 19 August as well as touring in October.

The release of their third album, @Reverend_Makers, is due out on 18 June with the second single from the album, The Wrestler, released 14 May.

MixTape1, an experimental offering of rarities, is available via their Facebook page.

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