53 Degrees itself is a purpose built entertainment venue and being a relatively new building it is perhaps a little soulless from the outside, especially compared to the more traditional Manchester Venues I usually attend. You have to applaud anybody these days however, that’s prepared to put money into a venue of any kind with so many closing all around the country and it fits the bill ideally for touring bands and artists. There are two levels with the ground floor having a 1500 capacity and the more intimate upstairs designed for 400 revellers, which is where the bands are situated tonight.
Once inside, this is a fantastic place to watch live music and there’s a decent crowd already milling around when opening act “Population Four” take to the stage, who unsurprisingly turn out to be from Preston. Now I know what “Population Four” are called and where they are from, as lead singer Rick, managed to mention this about a dozen times throughout their short set but you can’t knock him for a bit of self publicity. A self confessed rock band (don’t call them anything else, especially ska, as you’d be wrong) with a strong sound and a good mix of vocals with both melodic and gravelly tones shared by Rick and bass player Daff. The opening band mix let the lads down tonight though as there looked to be plenty going on especially with the lead guitar, but you could hardly hear it as the drums and bass drowned all but the vocals out. I’d like to see this outfit again with a better live sound as there appeared to be something well worth hearing, especially in tracks “Nomads” and “This Town Will Drag You Down” which made me feel better about not considering Preston as a place to socialise before.www.facebook.com/pages/Population-Four/22990717254
It was quite a trip around the U.K tonight as “Straight Lines” from Pontypridd, South Wales made their appearance. This was reasonably standard power/pop but well played with intelligence and vitality that endeared them immediately to the Lancastrian audience and changes in tempo and Tom’s distinctive vocal kept everything interesting throughout. Although the majority of the songs were played flat out, “Straight Lines” are equally at home with more mid tempo material and “All My Friends Have Joined The Army” was one of the stand out tracks from an entertaining set that culminated with Tom writhing around on the stage floor.
As one Marvin Lee Aday once said, “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad” but hopefully “Twin Atlantic” would improve on this and we’d see a full house of decent bands tonight. There was never a doubt that Preston loves “Twin Atlantic” especially the female congregation, as even before the Glaswegians had hit a single note, there was a scream of “take your shirt off,” aimed, I assume (no offence to the rest of the band) at front man Sam McTrusty. They opened with new single “Edit Me” and the crowd were immediately singing along with virtually every word, which continued throughout the whole set even with the majority of the new material which doesn’t receive an official release until May 8th. “Twin Atlantic” fans in this town are a dedicated bunch who hang on the bands every word and note. McTrusty admitted they had been worried there might only be around fifteen people to play to, especially being outside Scotland and seemed genuinely pleased so many had turned out to welcome them back after three years. The band rocked through an hour’s set, which included the more familiar songs from their mini album “Vivarium” and ‘five’ from “Free.” Their sound has always been technically based, twisting and turning within the music and some excellent, powerful rhythm patterns. The new material appears to continue this course, although there are definitely aspects to show the band aren’t content to stand still, and instead evolve. Lead guitarist Barry McKenna’s classical background is brought more to the fore, as he picks up the electric cello for a couple of numbers, including the encore “Crashland,” which McTrusty acknowledges as a strange choice to end with. “Ghost of Eddie” another new tune, has a much harder edge than anything on “Vivarium” and includes some full throated screaming from McTrusty and excellent riff heavy passages.
Although the new material is well received, it’s “Lightspeed,” “Human After All” and epic set closer, “You’re Turning Into John Wayne” that really brings 53 Degrees to the boil. There’s a bizarre incident during “John Wayne” however, when Sam launches himself from the stage into the crowd, but upon being returned over their heads, back towards the camera pit, he sees that none of the security have moved from the side. A look of panic crosses his face as he moves closer to the possibility of being dropped straight to the floor and potentially a nasty injury. Thankfully, at the last instance a bouncer does intervene and whilst not actually making a catch, does at least break his fall. Sam then makes his way back to the on to the stage looking slightly shaken, but manages to recover for the encore. It would seem the venue security isn’t used to such overzealous behaviour or perhaps it was divine intervention for him giving me the finger while taking photos!!
Set ListEdit Me
Review/photos/videos by Andy Barnes