Support: Dawn Landes
Less than a year since Okkervil River last graced Manchester Academy, upstairs in Academy 3, their billing tonight in the Club Academy might on paper look like somewhat of a downgrade. However, the recently extended basement venue is now only marginally smaller than its better-known siblings.
First on, Dawn Landes brought her charming mix of Americana, country and folk. Despite a few nerves getting the best of her at times, tracks such as opener ‘Wandering Eye’ and ‘Bodyguard’ showed enough promise to overlook such mishaps.
Emerging onstage to a warm reception, Okkervil River wasted no time bringing out favourites from their 2007 breakthrough The Stage Names, including opener ‘Plus Ones’, the delicate ‘A Girl In Port’ and the always delightful ‘John Allyn Smith Sails’. However, mid-set things surprisingly took a turn for the heavier, with material from more recent offering The Stand Ins getting spirited airings. You’ve never seen anyone rock an acoustic guitar as much as charismatic frontman Will Sheff. Normal service was then resumed with the triple whammy of ‘Lost Coastlines’, ‘Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe’ and the ever popular ‘Unless It Kicks’ bringing the set to a close, before an encore of the band’s older material. Offering up something to please everyone, just why Okkervil River continue to receive so very little attention remains a mystery.