Rounding off the end of a busy and exciting first year, ‘The Last Party’ headlined their first show by playing a Christmas/End of Year party at Night and Day Café, Manchester, celebrating much more than the festivities, but to also mark the success of their first anniversary. It’s been one hell of a ride for the band, starting with a chance meeting between lead singer/guitarist Liam Manton and keyboard player Greg Williams at an ‘Arcade Fire’ gig sometime ago. They kept in touch and eventually found themselves conjuring up a plan to craft a new sound that blended old Tamla Motown and the ever changing trends of new music, inspired by bands such as ‘The Doors’, ‘Pulp’, ‘The Cure’, ‘The Smiths’, and ‘The Pet Shop Boys’. Eventually their plan was put into action and the bands name was derived from a personal quote, “To craft songs that would soundtrack the last party on earth.” A true statement of intent. Their fist gig was in November 2010 at The Ruby Lounge and judging from the media reaction that night, it was full steam ahead from there. The amount of exposure and accolades that’d been thrown their way in such a short time has been remarkable. Several outlets of the music press, well known musicians of established bands, being on the bill supporting big acts and being the first band ever to be asked to record for the BBC in their new home have all been part of ‘The Last Party’s’ debut year.
Having only caught the last two or three songs of their set at the ‘All The Young’ gig back in October, I was desperate to see them in full, having been suitably impressed. I didn’t quite catch the name of the band that night, but as fate would have it I ran into Liam Manton at the ‘Hyde & Beast’ gig a month ago. Again, I missed their opening set, but was lucky enough to get talking to him where he invited me to this landmark event, giving me the opportunity to finish what I set out to do.
The four piece band took to the stage, other members being drummer Daniel Moss and bassist Adam Reekie. Manton comes on looking cool, a true Mancunian look, haircut and a rock n roll posture and attitude that oozes self belief. They swiftly launch into opening track ‘Shoot Your Guns’. Manton is fully energised on stage, deftly charismatic, menacing in his body language, making you feel compelled to listen and watch, unaware of what he might do next to hold the audience. It’s evident that he loves and believes in what he’s singing about, and as far as showmen type frontmen go, there are a few better in the new music scene.
The set is captivating, with elements of indie/rock and pop being at the core of the sound. Three songs in and Manton introduces the next song about a journalist who didn’t give them the time of the day, titled, ‘Wrong Place Wrong Time’, I feel that guy might just eat those words now. The set continues and in parts their sound is anthemic with great guitar riffs and support from the rest of the band who are happy to let their lead singer/guitarist steal the attention. Whether by choice or not, this guy was born for it, being the heart and soul of all the bands raw and edgier tracks. They ended with one of the crowds’ favourite, ‘1000 Smiles’, a solemn yet hypnotically uplifting tune that has the audience’s arms outstretched, singing along to the very end, i.e. at The Last Party.
Now that the set had finished, playing to a growing fan base that has supported them throughout the year, it was time for one last song where in true Christmas spirit they played an encore of ‘Slade’s’, ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, inevitably lifting the crowd into further high spirits as the majority embraced, danced and sang along. ‘The Last Party’ have recently been back in the studio to record an EP that will be released in 2012. There is still work to be done and there are minor areas where improvement can be made, but this is only their first year in the spotlight and with the inevitable gaining of experience that is sure to come, those minor wrinkles will be ironed out. However, that doesn’t stop the momentum gathering at an alarming rate and to echo the words of several other writers out there, ‘The Last Party’ seem destined for great things.
Review by Nigel Cartner /Live photos by Matt Johnston/Backstage and group shot by James Butterworth