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Andy Biddulph's Blog
Twin Atlantic, Lower Than Atlantis & [ME] - Manchester HMV Ritz (04/16/12)
04/23/12 at 04:24 AM by Andy Biddulph
Accents, this show was all about accents. From Southern England to Australian to Glaswegian, every band had one, every band flaunted theirs.

I headed to the Manchester Ritz to check out and enticing bill and see what the bands had to say for themselves (what I could understand, anyway...)

The Aussie twang opening the show belonged to [ME], a band that sounds like fun. had kids with Muse’s more sensible moments, bought them skinny jeans and taught them to write wonderfully quirky pop-rock.

Unfortunately for the band, the kids here for the high-octane thrills of the other two acts weren’t too interested, which made for a plodding, slightly forced set.

While their music didn’t exactly click with the crowd, the band showed flashes of showmanship on tracks like “Westward Backwards” that will serve them well on more suitable bills in front of more suitable crowds.

More accent-based fun came in the form of the south of England’s Lower Than Atlantis; a band that have done things the right way. These gentlemen have travelled from humble beginnings through to the forefront of UK rock through hard work, good humour and top notch songwriting, so it’s great to see them completely dominate a venue of this size.

Despite the majority of their set being plagued by muddy sound, the band pulled through with an infectious energy and belting tracks like “Deadliest Catch”.

An accomplished medley of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and “The Pretender” was a clear high point, as was the bombastic “Beech Like The Tree”. With the help of the old “sit down then jump up when the next song kicks in” trick, the crowd were left foaming at the mouth before the headliners even set foot on the stage.

When Twin Atlantic did set foot on the stage, it took a while for them to get going; first track “Yes, I Was Drunk” was a remarkably subdued affair. Not to matter though; the assembled masses promptly went several shades of batshit crazy as the driving intro to “Time For You To Stand Up” dropped.

This was a trend that continued throughout the night for material old and new, including a wonderful blitz through “Human After All” and euphoric call to arms “We Want Better Man”.

It’s been a treat to chart the rise and rise of Twin Atlantic of late. Just four months ago they played down the road at a venue with a capacity of around 350. Tonight’s venue held over triple that.

Vocalist Sam McTrusty’s searing, Glaswegian delivery is undoubtedly the best it’s ever been and he was more than backed up by a band in their prime: juggling keys and a cello on top of their normal duties.

Acoustic, cello-led renditions of “You’re Turning Into John Wayne” and “Crash Land” in particular were stunning and showcased a poignant, ethereal side to a rapidly maturing band.

Even as the last triumphant notes of “Free” rang around the room there was a feeling that this band haven’t even reached their prime yet. If tonight was anything to go by, these guys might just be an album away from arenas.
Tags: live, lower than atlantis, review, twin atlantic, [me]
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Brand New, I Am The Avalanche & The Xcerts - Manchester Academy 02/09/2012
02/27/12 at 08:01 AM by Andy Biddulph
Below is a short review of Brand New's headline show at Manchester Academy, UK on 02/09/2012. I Am The Avalanche and The Xcerts joined them as support.

I know, I know - another Brand New piece on AbsolutePunk.net. Surprising, huh? Bear with me a moment. Before February the band hadn't toured over in the UK for over two years - an age for a fanbase as fervent as theirs and (whisper it quietly around these parts) I've never seen them live before. Did I mention that they brought two of the best live bands in the business with them for the ride? Well, now you can see that there was plenty of reason for me and 2999 other fanatics to pack into Manchester Academy to witness the second date of their sold out UK tour.

First up, The Xcerts entered through a wall of feedback and straight off the bat performed with a presence that belied their modest appearance and more than filled the huge (but criminally empty) room with their seething noise-pop. Much like the show's headliners, this young Scottish trio managed to be frenetic, angular and melancholic all at the same time throughout a half-hour romp of a set that included grunge-tinged anthem “Scatterbrain” and culminated with an angsty run through “Hurt With Me”.

I’ve said it before and I’m more than willing to say it again: this band will be huge one day. I mean, massive. With that live show and those songs in their armoury; it’s time that one of the UK’s best kept secrets broke out.

After a five year absence from the UK, I Am The Avalanche fans have been starved of the band of late. That said, they're well on their way to making up for it with their second stint on these shores in just under two months.

It was pretty apt, then, that the highlight of their set was the booming "I'll Be Back Around", which proved what we already knew - I Am The Avalanche are a formidable live prospect. In Vinnie Caruana they possess one of the best voices in modern punk and they carry an infectious energy that just about rippled through the mostly static crowd on tracks like "Gratitude".

Searing, gritty and direct, Caruana and co. swaggered through a half-hour that leaned heavily on 2011's Avalanche United. "I Took A Beating" capped an accomplished performance but by then it was clear that the Manchester crowd were here for one thing and one thing only: Brand New.

From the onset, the band were greeted as what they are to most of the room - returning heroes. Arriving with a typical air of mystery through a cloud of smoke, the band launched straight into "Welcome To Bangkok" before peeling off the anthemic "The Archers Bows Have Broken".

Over the years it's proved impossible for people to decide if BN are best at their most direct on tracks like "Seventy Times 7" or on tracks like "Jesus Christ" where both Jesse and crowd brood together, building and building into a shimmering, room-wide singalong.

Whatever your opinion, there's no denying the power of this band. From a wonderful jaunt through "Jude Law and a Semester Abroad" to newer tracks like "Gasoline", pretty much everything was immaculate. Even an uncharacteristically loose run through "Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades" was masked by the sheer enthusiasm and volume of the crowd.

Keeping onstage chat to a minimum, the band got their heads down and ran through the rest of a set that included most of The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me and choice cuts from Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, pausing only to offer the crowd a choice between "Play Crack The Sky" and "Soco Amaretto Lime". See what Manchester picked below.



A final salvo of "Jesus Christ", "Degausser" and the climactic "You Won't Know" capped a euphoric set and a brilliant night perfectly, proving beyond all doubt that Brand New more than live up to the hype around them. Jesse Lacey talked last year about wanting to stop "bumming fans out". Looking at the smiles plastered across the faces of the 2,000-odd fans pouring out of the venue, I don't think he or Brand New have anything to worry about.
Tags: brand new, i am the avalanche, live review, the xcerts
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