LIVE REVIEW: SPECTOR - GORILLA, MANCHESTER 23/05/2018

On the back of their recent EP, we caught Spector on the Ex-Directory tour at Gorilla, Manchester. 

Support came from Sad Boys Club and Alan Power, who both put on a show, although hugely diverse from one another. As the low capacity venue started to fill up, Sad Boys Club took to the stage, which soon proved to be way too small for the five-piece. 

The band only had a twenty-minute set, but owned the stage. The singer had a certain likeness to Robert Smith and Matt Healy, with their tracks even sounding like a mix of The Cure and The 1975. Obvious influences aside, the eccentric dance moves were far too bold for this small stage. 

Alan Power was a bizarre experience to say the least. Seeing him pre-gig sporting a mullet style haircut and wearing white Crocs whilst sound checking should have probably set the mark. Moments later he came out wearing a white suit, with flared trousers and cowboy boots. Quick thinking, I compared him to Paddy Considine’s character ‘Graham Purvis’ on the coming of age film Submarine, and now I just cannot unsee it. 

Sitting centre stage for the short set, Alan Power continuously switched between his keyboard and guitar, talking in between each song. I tried so hard to enjoy it, but after him telling the audience to “shut the f**k up” in a not so jokey manner, for talking amongst one another, I couldn’t help but think his set was an awkward eye rolling karaoke style performance. My attention was somewhat grabbed whilst introducing the final song “this one is inspired by Glastonbury Festival – I went to see The Killers – someone gave me some acid”. Only to find it was really all just a bit of a piss take. Alan Power, I’m sorry, but I’m just not feeling it. 

After what felt like an age, the music dimmed as Spector took to the stage. The fifteen-song set was full of absolute bangers, with a seven-year career spanning set list, they were real crowd pleasers. Spector were well and truly out in full force, except from bassist Thomas Shickle, who appeared to have been replaced by a lookalike. Possibly in hope that no one would notice, apart from those of us on the front row. Days later I still wonder where he has been? 

After a hot day in Manchester (which doesn’t happen very often!) it appears no one had quite prepared themselves for the gig that was about to happen, the venue was literally dripping with sweat on the walls. Running through songs ‘Decade of Decay’, ‘Twenty Nothing’, ‘Stay High’ and ‘Chevy Thunder’ the crowd were absolutely loving it. Mosh pits were started, crowd surfing began and everyone was jumping, with phones and merch even being thrown onto the stage at one point. 

Upon starting new EP track ‘Fine Not Fine’ Fred soon stopped the song, seemingly to have forgotten the lyrics, which previously happened earlier in the set. When the verse came again, “Some of your best friends are Tory’s” was sang at the top of everyone’s lungs with huge passion. Throughout the set, singer, Fred Macpherson held the microphone to the crowd in all catchy choruses where the lucky ones at the front were able to sing into the microphone, and even hold Fred’s hand whilst doing so. Everyone was having such fun, including the band, who were clearly loving this small-scale gig. 

Even in a small venue, Spector still had the chance to do an encore. Which saw the band stay on stage, whilst Fred went off for a well deserved breather. ‘Friday Night, Don’t Ever Let It End’, ‘Celestine’ and ‘All the Sad Young Men’ closed the evening. Whilst Fred addressed some thankyous to people in the crowd before starting the last song, I was mistaken for the girl who drew the ‘Spector mug’. Even shaking my head vigorously didn’t stop everyone from looking in praise. I can’t help but think I was only recognised for an embarrassing meeting with Fred at Live at Leeds festival a few years ago, where I told him I was 1 of the 10 people at an early gig in Hull at Tokyo Nightclub in 2012… 

Anyway, we can’t wait for what might be in store next for the Spector boys. Whether that’s a new album, including some more experimental songs like ‘Tenner’, which we were treat to during the encore, or some more tour dates, it’s certainly an exciting time for the politically engaging pop song writing band. 

Thank god for bands with such a stage presence and sing along anthems who still play tiny venues and enthral us with entertainment, this is exactly what we need and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Sweaty gigs are the best gigs. 

Words and Photography by Abbie Jennings for When The Horn Blows

Article can be read in full HERE

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