LIVE: Terrorvision, Reef, The Wildhearts, Dodgy – Manchester Academy, 04/05/2018
Well, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster getting here to say the least. When the Britrock Must Be Destroyed tour was first announced a few months back, tiresome debates raged in various online groups over the inclusion of certain bands on the bill, their positions on each night’s running order and the length of each group’s set. Thankfully, the day has finally come that all of that nonsense can be put to bed so that we can concentrate on the music; after all, it’s not every day you see a mid-90s bonanza of this magnitude roll into town.
The glorious weather is already creating a party atmosphere in nearby beer gardens, but despite the sun’s rare appearance, a fair few punters head to the cavernous darkness of Academy 1 to witness Dodgy kick things off at the commuter-challenging hour of 5.30pm. Supposedly the poppiest band on the bill, the four piece still hammer out a decent noise, working through universally recognisable tunes In A Room, Staying Out For The Summer and Good Enough as well as the newer California Gold, and all are met with warm applause.
Given a last-minute extended 60 minute set, The Wildhearts emerge a cheeky five minutes early in order to cram in even more of their rock classics, and judging by the amount of their T-shirts adorning members of the crowd tonight, they were never going to fail. Seeing Danny McCormack walking onstage and standing upright for an opening I Wanna Go Where The People Go, after all that he’s been through in recent times, simply increases the amount of shit-eating grins in the room, and a bouncing pit gets going from the first note.
Considering no-one expected to ever see this line-up live again less than a year ago, it’s ridiculously joyous to see a svelte Ginger belting out each bona-fide classic with such happiness, whilst CJ is looking ripped and focused on hammering out the riffs like they’re fresh off the production line.
With a set culled entirely from their earlier years (Vanilla Radio is the only non-90s track to appear) it takes a lot to make everything sound fresh, but banging through the trio of My Baby Is A Headfuck, Suckerpunch and Caffeine Bomb one after the other creates more sweat than a day out sunbathing on Mount Etna. Everlone seems to get the whole room singing and dripping bodies have to be physically wrenched apart after the closing 29 x The Pain and Love U ‘Til I Don’t. On this kind of form, The Wildhearts could end up having a career-best year ahead of a new album in 2019.
Reef initially seemed like an odd inclusion on this bill, but tonight they make pretty good sense; they have a likeable sound and a committed (and vast) fanbase which has helped to sell this date out, and after the fury of The Wildhearts, they’re perfectly placed to chill us out a notch or two. Channelling his inner Rick Grimes, the impressively-bearded Gary Stringer croons into the stoner-blues of Just Feel Love (taken from their new album Revelation, released on this very day) and the softer I’ve Got Something To Say and Consideration with gravel-throated effortlessness.
Place Your Hands is given an early airing so that the focus can be on the soulfulness of some newer material such as new single My Sweet Love (featuring Sheryl Crow on record) which does a good job in charming the crowd. Fleshing out their sound with two female backing singers and Andrew Wallace on keys, Reef in 2018 have a smooth and sultry Southern rock vibe, with Jack Bessant carving out some particularly hypnotic bass grooves.
Terrorvision get the nod as headliners tonight, being the most local band on the bill, and they grab the opportunity by the balls and give it a damn good tickling during a 19-song pop-rock tour-de-force. Emerging suited and booted, the band rampage through Discotheque Wreck before getting the audience chanting with Friends and Family and Alice What’s The Matter.
Proving they’re not all about straightforward three-minute pop, Didn’t Bleed Red stomps along and shows just what the band are capable of, sounding fresh, brutal and lilting in equal measure. The jam-packed crowd lap up all the favourites, whether it’s an early single like My House or an album track like the punky If I Was You, with Tony Wright responding by bouncing around the stage like an excitable gazelle. In fact the whole band are on fire, fit as butcher’s dogs and laying into every song with more vigour than ever, Milly’s keyboard even attempting to launch itself out for a crowd-surf on a number of occasions.
Some People Say‘s mass singalong brings the hairs on the back of everyone’s necks to attention and the classics keep on coming with American TV leaving knees in tatters with its irresistible bounce. Even the newer (well, from 2011) tracks like Babylon and Demolition Song are warmly welcomed, as Mark Yates’ tattoos glisten with every riff and Leigh Marklew hammers at his bass with headbanging fervour. It’s soon time for everyone’s favourite song about whales and dolphins, and as Perseverance ends, it’s actually quite sad that a frighteningly good set has come to an end.
Fortunately, it’s not long before the encore of Pretend Best Friend (featuring Nick from Role Models on trumpet) and the hand-waving glory of Oblivion, and it’s at this point the realisation hits that we may just have witnessed Terrorvision’s finest show to date; they’ve certainly stolen the show, leaving us hopeful they’ve got another album up their sleeves some time very soon indeed. Either way, tonight’s been an honour and a downright privilege; it hasn’t just been a lazy nostalgia trip, it’s shown that bands who allegedly had their heyday two decades ago can easily compete with the current scene, and put smiles on faces as wide as the country is long. And to all the doubters, party over here, fuck you over there!
Text by Nick Spragg, images © John Gilleese. All images are subject to copyright laws. All rights reserved.