Manchester Orchestra @ Manchester Academy 3 16/07/09

manchester orchestra 2Support: Kevin Devine

Having already delivered one of the year’s best records so far, in the shape of Mean Everything To Nothing, there’s no wonder tonight’s gig had not only sold out, but had also been upgraded from the Night And Day to the always impressive Academy 3. First on, after a poorly received support slot a few weeks back with Brand New, thankfully tonight’s solo acoustic outing from Kevin Devine was met with a much more welcoming response, with the Brooklyn born songwriter drawing heavily from recent release Brother’s Blood. Even technical difficulties mid-set did little to dampen an otherwise confident performance from Devine, who appeared at total ease, even joking he should consider renting in the city given his numerous gigs over the past weeks.

Emerging onstage alone, Manchester Orchestra’s frontman Andy Hull is a menacing figure. Heavily bearded and sporting what can only be described as a wild bush of hair, the broad frontman opened with a solo cover of Paul Simon’s ‘You’re Kind’ before being joined by the rest of his cohorts. ‘Shake It Out’ got the set off to a proper start, performed with such a force you could feel your ribcage vibrate. Equally impressive were old favourites ‘I Can Barely Breathe’, ‘Now That You’re Home’ and closer ‘The River’, further showcasing Hull’s phenomenal vocal ability; being able to go from the most delicate of whisper to a tornado like roar in mere seconds. Whilst ’50 cent’ added some humour, it was an extended ‘Where Have You Been’ that provided the most memorable moment,  that not only saw Kevin Devine join the band for vocal duties, but also saw the crowd devotedly sing back “God, where have you been”, long after the band had stopped playing. Book-ending the set with a solo version ‘The Only One’ brought proceedings to the perfect finish, the crowd equally exhausted and exhilarated. And we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

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