This hirsute band fill the void between My Morning Jacket and Biffy Clyro. Sort of.
Date: September 29, 2014
Venue: Rescue Rooms
Let’s get one thing straight before we start. If you think Manchester Orchestra are an orchestra from Manchester you couldn’t be more wrong. They are a noise-rock five-piece from Atlanta, Georgia. At no stage do they sound like the Gallaghers with strings and a brass section.
This gig is a bit of a merry-go-round of personnel. First ‘support’ band are Bad Books, which comprises Manchester Orchestra lead man Andy Hull and Kevin Devine, who himself will go onto perform as second ‘support’ with his God Damn Band. It’s a big rock Yankie love-in.
Manchester Orchestra’s changeable dynamic is demonstrated in the first two songs. Pride begins to rumble before careering into an ear-piercing maelstrom of hard rock and deafening noise sludge ripe for Download’s main stage, while Shake It Out, although no less sedate, is the kind of alternative rock so en vogue right now.
Toying with the zeitgeist further – or rather throwing stones to awaken it – Pensacola sounds like everyone’s favourite Scottish rockers Biffy Clyro if they merged with Tennessee Americana favourites My Morning Jacket, with almighty hooks.
The similarities with My Morning Jacket don’t end there. Andy Hull’s impressive beard is worthy of the hirsute MMJ, while his voice is, at times, as syrupy as MMJ leader Jim James’s, with added growl to boot. With reverb on the slower numbers, the echoic Simple Math is a prime example of that comparison.
“Thank you for coming to see us play the entire time”, quips keyboardist/percussionist Chris Freeman, in reference to their inter-band scattered residency, before an impromptu song, tentatively entitled My Girlfriend Left and Killed My Cat, showcases their whimsical side that permeates the second half of the gig. It’s welcome amidst their dark, epic, layered rock n roll which is expansive and cochlear-worryingly loud yet supremely entertaining.