Review by Georgia Corpe
Photos by Bobby Rein
Manchester Orchestra returned to Australia showing off their mighty sound and drawing a crowd of dedicated, devoted and bearded fans.
The Other Guys: Kevine Devine and APES
First cab off the rank for the evening was Brooklyn native Kevin Devine. Kevin is a frequent collaborator with Manchester Orchestra, releasing collaborative albums Bad Books in recent years with members of the band. Having not heard much of Kevin Devine’s music before, it was easy to see how Manchester Orchestra complimented his sound; comparable to the likes of Elliot Smith and Bright Eyes. With strong, striking lyrical content coupled with the soothing simple sounds of his nylon string guitar, he was an impressive solo artist and opening act. Even though he had the early slot, a crowd had already formed to hear his beautiful dulcet tones and if not fans already, they soon would be.
Next up were Melbourne lads APES. After recently returning from their UK tour, these guys amped up the crowd with their signature, polished alt rock sound. A powerful set balanced with hard hitters and slow burners, it was inevitable the boys would leave us mumbling “I just want one helluva time” under our breath whilst waiting for the much-loved Manchester Orchestra.
As the Atlanta five-piece walked out on stage, fronted by the talented and tall Andy Hull, the admiring and obedient crowd stood to attention. The seemingly appropriate opener Pride, from their 2009 album Mean Everything to Nothing, set the tone for the bands inspiring and vast sound. The set then blossomed into an array of the bands unmistakeable brand of palm-muted, riff dominated, melodic alternate American rock.
Manchester Orchestra performed a show for their long-term fans, playing only four songs from their fourth and most recent album Cope. This appeared to be a wise choice from the guys, receiving “Oh My God” responses from the crowd with songs such as I Can Feel Your Pain and I Can Barely Breathe as listed on their 2006 album I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. The band embraced acoustic release Hope, with Hull playing their Triple J high rotator single Top Notch accompanied only by his rhythmic toned guitar and pacifying smooth voice. This really brought out the story- telling component in Andy’s lyrics, which pleased old fans and impressed the new.
Although Manchester Orchestra’s music can be somewhat repetitive, as was a heavily criticised element with their recent release Cope, they performed a sophisticated show that was seamless from start to finish. A huge thumbs up to the guys who have a wide audience to please.
Although the crowd expectantly shouted “Encore!” at the end of Manchester Orchestra’s set, the night finished off with Andy Hull and Kevin Devine collaboratively performing a few songs. The brightest of highlights was their harmonious cover of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air; a version of the beloved sitcom theme tune you had definitively never heard before making the performance a memorable one.
“Yo homes smell ya later!”
– Crowd interaction was key during the ‘Manchester Devine’ Fresh Prince cover
What it Looked Like