…just remember, I only write about what I see, or what I think I see - in a dimly lit room with a restricted vantage point - and recollections may vary. Enjoy.
The Deaf Institute, Manchester - Now I’ve been to some interesting places in my time, but The Deaf Institute in Manchester is definitely in the Top 10 of quirkiest venues. Built in 1878, decorated about five years later maybe, and never since, I’d say. We make our way up a rickety wooden staircase to a room that can only be defined as ‘compact and bijou’.
The stage - the ceiling of which is decorated in parrot wallpaper - is flanked with curtains straight from a Victorian Music Hall, brass chandeliers hang from the roof, as does a mirror ball with a three-foot diameter …but no pin spot to light it up, even though it’s spinning for all it’s worth. There’s a raised seating area at the back, which is more like a rogues gallery and a balcony that was to be my blessing in disguise – but more on that later…
First up tonight is last minute stand in, Neeve Zhara, who defines herself as a 16-year-old Country Singer / Songwriter treads the boards instead of the advertised ‘The Thieves’. The place is a good, half full by the time she does, which could be a bit intimidating for someone of such a young age, but she gets off to a good start with ‘Cause I Love You’, followed by ‘Spotlight’ (off her soon to be released debut EP). Both tracks are quite well received when you consider the difference in music style compared to our headliner and Zhara isn’t intimidated in the slightest.
‘The Way I Need You’ is next before she attempts a bold move with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Rihanna’ which suits her voice and is sung rather well. The people of Manchester (or Glasgow / Dundee / Edinburgh judging by most of the accents) really appreciate what they hear and the effort she puts in.
She finished strongly with ‘Step Right Over’ and ‘Love Me’ by which time the venue was full, as this date sold out very quickly, and an appeal to attend her ‘Country Kind of Love’ EP launch at Wilson’s Social in Manchester on 19th May, which wouldn’t be a bad way to spend an evening at all, if I say so, myself. Tonight, the girl done well all things considered. Last minute replacement, sixteen and with a country vibe, as Support for an Indie Rock band… I’d say the girl done very well.
Now, we only have a 40-minute wait for the Scottish rockers from North of the Border…
With fifteen minutes to go before the clock strikes nine, the audience begins to chant ‘The View, The View, The View are on Fire’ rings out from a packed house. It’s evident that there’s an awful lot of people, been waiting an awful long time for tonight and an awful lot of pent-up emotion needs to be released.
At the allotted hour the band appear on stage, a huge cheer goes up and front man, Falconer greets everyone with ‘evening Manchester, long time, no see eh?’ And we’re off to a blinding start with ‘Glass Smash’ and ‘Comin’ Down’. There’s no time to take a breath before the chords to ‘Wasted Little DJ’s’ rings out and the entire floor becomes one almighty mosh pit with arms aloft, drink and emotionally fuelled and swirling like the proverbial dervish. It’s a lovely sight to see.
…but then it stops for a moment whist they all sing Happy Birthday to our bassist Kieran Webster - who has no idea what kind of present he’s going to get in 40 minutes time !
‘Grace’ and ‘Wasteland’ / ‘Typical Time’ follow with brief comments in between by Falconer, none of which I can understand as my English ears can’t translate the Dundonian dialect well enough.
‘The View, The View, The View are on Fire’ rings out once more in between anthem after anthem and it only takes the first two notes of each for the crowd to know what’s next and for it to be balled out in style and all those pent-up emotions I mentioned earlier, released into the ether and turned into dim and distant memories.
The band are only playing two dates on this ‘tour’, perhaps as a warmup for a few festival dates starting at the end of the month, but if this was a tester to see if they’d been forgotten about South of the Border, they’ll be pleased with what they got. Many years of inactivity has not seen their memory distinguished and any thoughts of such has disappeared in three quarters of an hour.
Skag Trendy is next which means our Birthday boy take centre stage. This is the moment he’s really been waiting for and he’s going to savour every moment especially when the crowd sings ‘Happy Birthday’ again - just in case he’d forgot.
…but then, at the end of the tune, it gets interesting, and as I said at the top, ‘recollections may vary’.
With Webster’s moment over, Falconer moves to retake centre stage again only to be blocked by Websters left arm and a look that seems to say ‘I’ll stay here a little longer Pal’, which is not exactly appreciated by the usual front man. Eyeballs and words seem to be exchanged, but it matters not.
Webster is standing his ground - or he was before Falconer swung his left and connected rather well, by all accounts. Fisticuffs ensue with Falconer screaming “I’ll f***ing kill you” as Management dash on stage to break it all up, but not before Falconer has got a few more punches in. Management does a fair job of restraining our man but not before other band members get it verbally in the neck for not speaking out and recommending that the status quo be resumed. At this point everyone storms off the stage in different directions and a once riotous crowd (in the nicest possible way mind, that mosh pit was a joy to behold) stands there in silence, opened mouthed and wondering what the hell they’ve just witnessed.
The lights stay down for what seems like a lifetime - probably no more than five minutes or so - before Falconer appears back on stage to a huge cheer. We await the return of the rest of the band, but they are nowhere to be seen. Falconer dons an acoustic and produces a passionate version of ‘Face for the Radio’ and world is a sunny place again.
…but it isn’t. Now, we think the rest of the band is about to return but what we get is an explanation from Falconer “Ya see, the problem with this band, is that he (Webster) wants to sing every song, but he cannae”. He goes on “Maybe you should see if he wants to finish the rest of the set”, before he exits stage left !
…and so we wait some more and still everyone behaves and takes it in their stride.
‘The View, The View, The View are on Fire’ echoes out once more as encouragement but at 22.09 and only halfway through the set, we realise that any pacification by the Management and Promoters has fallen on deaf ears. The lights come up and we get a minion who informs us that the show is over and “we’d like you to leave, please” - which everyone does in a calm and collected manner.
Versions of the ‘entertainment’ are exchanged as we meander down the rickety staircase with everyone in a philosophical mood as if this kind of thing happens all the time - I’m assured that it doesn’t.
So, we all wonder, what happens next, especially with them booked in at The Neighbourhood Weekender in Warrington at the end of this month and a 14 date tour in November announced earlier in the evening, not to mentioned the new CD ‘ Exorcism of Youth’ only just released ,all designed to whet everyone’s appetite for more, but now in abeyance. The following nights appearance in Oslo, London was swiftly cancelled by the following morning - tickets are still valid though and the Promoter is working on a revised date - and so, we wait once more.
The thing is, up until the madness, this was a pleasure to see and a moment to behold. It was everything that everyone had been waiting for and the passion and the love for the band hadn’t diminished one jot.
So, in the cold light of day, I’d say that it’s time to kiss and make up boys. You’ve known each other way too long and been through too much for it to end like this. A new album and an expected sell out tour is all laid out before you.
Life’s too short, boys. Life’s too short.
Set List (well, half of it anyway)
1. Glass Smash
2. Comin' Down
3. Wasted Little DJ’s
5. Wasteland / Typical Time
6. Feels Like
7. Underneath the Lights
8. Tragic Magic
10. Gran's for Tea
12. Skag Trendy
Written for Rock at Night Magazine
Full set of images coming soon...