WE Are Scientists brought their last tour to Manchester last night. Quays News entertainment reporter Ellie Doward was in the crowd…
Before I started writing this review, I worried that it was going to be a little biased, because We Are Scientists are my all-time favourite band. But then I got to thinking about why exactly I like them so much, and it’s because they never, ever fail to put on an excellent show.
Supporting the band on their tour were The Alibi and Flowers – an indie-pop three piece from London. Lead vocalist Rachel had a beautiful voice, but their music overall was a little too sultry, slow and atmospheric to make them a good support band for We Are Scientists. They gave a low energy performance and didn’t really command the stage. After Flowers’ haunting vocals and slow melodies, the mood before We Are Scientists took to the stage was a little subdued, so the band had their work cut out to get the audience going.
Lead singer and guitarist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain took to the stage after playing audio of what sounded like a strange comedy sketch based on Seltzer, an American brand of fizzy water. The venue wasn’t full, possibly with the gig being on a Tuesday night, but the band instantly brought the energy levels up after this strange beginning with their opening track, ‘The Scene is Dead’, from the knockout 2006 album ‘With Love and Squalor’.
— Laura Dean (@modestlaura) May 3, 2016
Next up was ‘Buckle’, a single from their new album ‘Helter Seltzer’, and, in my opinion, the best. I would have liked this song to come a little later in the set as the crowd wasn’t quite warmed up enough at that point for this most energetic and boldest of numbers. That said, having formed nearly 17 years ago, you can easily see their years of experience as musicians in their command of the stage, the way they captivate the audience and hit those top notes.
Throughout the show, Keith and Chris played a mix of songs from the new album such as ‘Classic Love’ and ‘In My Head’ and old classics such as ‘It’s a Hit’ and ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’ which was pleasing to see as their 2014 tour leant a little too heavily on singles from the then new album ‘TV en Français’. They are a band you want to sing along to: though we all want to hear their new singles, their classic songs are infectious and, last night, they struck the balance between the two perfectly.
The banter in between songs was as entertaining as it always is. Both Keith and Chris have a way of making you feel as though you are seeing a show rather than just live music. Chris assured us he could play his bass in a way that created a sound like a revving engine and after that, requests that he ‘play the revving engine sound!’ came periodically from audience members throughout the show. We Are Scientists make a habit of listening to heckles and playing off them, talking back and making jokes until everyone in the crowd is laughing along with them. It was the best way to boost a slightly subdued audience.
Apart from playing ‘Buckle’ a little too early, the set list could not have been improved upon. The band played tracks from all five albums, including ‘Impatience’, one they rarely play live, ‘Nice Guys’ and ‘Dumb Luck’. The guitar solos were perfect and constant and the pace never slowed. The audience went particularly wild for their biggest hits, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘After Hours’. After the latter track, Keith and Chris left the stage to a booming reverb while the crowd cheered for the encore.
To close the show, they played ‘Textbook’, an old favourite, during which Keith treated fans by dropping his guitar, jumping offstage and entering the crowd to perform this slightly slower number.
After this the pace picked up again with ‘Cash Cow’, featuring one last, blistering guitar solo. Before their very last track of the show, Keith asked the crowd if it sounded okay to them, or if all they could here was “crazy demon sounds.”
A problem with the sound meant that, presumably, all the band could hear was strange noises, and particularly when they played an A chord – the key last song and new single ‘Too Late’ was supposed to be played in. After deliberating whether they would be able to play or not, they soldiered on and, considering the sound problems, played this atmospheric track brilliantly, even if the harmonies were a little off because of the technical problems.
— Tony Dunn (@tony_dunn1) May 4, 2016
Overall, this gig was more than just a gig. It was a show – We Are Scientists warmed up a still-in-mid-week mode audience until they were laughing, cheering and shouting along to every single song. Another flawless performance from a true gem of an indie-rock band.
By Ellie Doward