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Live Review: Manchester Orchestra - The Ruby Lounge, Manchester - 16/4/11

Despite not actually hailing from the city of Manchester itself, Manchester Orchestra describe this particular show as a 'homecoming' on their Twitter and with the Manchester derby commencing earlier in the day at Wembley Stadium, this is surely a proud day for Manchester and anything asscociated with it.

Opening up with 'Pride' from their soon to be previous album, Tim Very's drumming, despite being a new addition to the band, is flawless and aggressive and maintains this level of passion during the rest of the bands explosive set. Between songs the chemistry between Manchester Orchestra is flawless and between songs, it feels as if we're at a comedy show as well as a rock show. With Hull agitatedly responding to a request for 'Hast Thou Considered the Tetrapod' by quickly snapping "Hast Thou Considered the Tuning Pedal".

Surprisingly the band also play songs from their debut album 'I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child'. 'Now That You're Home' and 'Wolves at Night' sound a lot more refined as they did on that album and have truly matured with age. The true highlight was 'I Can Barely Breathe' which was requested by someone in the crowd, halfway through the song Jonathan Corley's bass guitar cut out and frontman Andy Hull quickly resolved this problem by carrying on the rest of the song on his own whilst the band sort out the trouble with the bass guitar. The problem is fixed halfway through the song, and for the last chorus the entire band accompany Hull in a deafening change in dynamic. Unsurprisingly, singles such as 'Shake It Out' as well as 'I've Got Friends' attract a small mosh pit, however, it's clear that the rest of the crowd is just hear to witness the bands pure passion in their performance.

Towards the end of their set, the rest of the band left the stage bar Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, who sang a very sparse cover of Willie Nelson's 'The Party's Over' mixed in with The Mountain Goats 'No Children'. Hull and Robert soon put down both of their guitars and carried on singing without a microphone, both are heard throughout the entire venue and despite the obscurity of both songs, the crowd is hushed so they can listen to both of the voices reverberate throughout the room.

The band return to the stage after a short break and perform 'Where Have You Been?,' an unlikely closer and as the band leaves the stage again, the audience remains to sing the chorus in protest, even changing it to "Where Have You Gone?" towards the end, until the band return to the stage to finish the song. Hull, having changed his shirt due to the amount of sweat acquired during the set, managed to get his fresh clean shirt in the same state after ending up on the stage floor mutilating his guitar. Ending the night on a very light note, the band closes their set with '50 Cent', laughs are heard everytime Hull opens his mouth and after finishing his hilarious song, the crowd show an overwhelming response. Despite the setlists heavy emphasis on 'Mean Everything to Nothing' songs, it's clear that the band want to put this album behind them to move forward, even going so far as to not playing 'Simple Math'.

Words by George Gadd

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