LIVE: Neck Deep – O2 Apollo Manchester, 14/10/2017

Due to the massive queues winding their way around both sides of the venue and a stage time of ten minutes after doors opening, I only manage to catch the last 2 songs of Woes, our first band of the night. They have a tough job, trying to make an impact as the crowd streams into the venue, but they give it their best shot and, even with some loose musicianship, they leave the stage to well-deserved applause.

After a quick turnaround, it’s time for Illinois natives and perennial Neck Deep tour partners Real Friends. With a 25 minute set length, Dan Lambton and Co. waste no time getting stuck in, and the fact that the Neck Deep crowd are well acquainted with them helps, as their emotive lyrics are sung back by the majority of those watching and they receive a reception not usually shown for the second band of a four band bill.

As It Is ratchet up the energy quite a bit for their performance. Frontman Patty Walters bounces and bounds across the large stage area as if the floor was lava, and a stream of crowd surfers begins to pour over the barrier to greet his outstretched and welcoming hands. Even with the recent parting of ways with former guitarist Andy Westhead, there is no discernible gap in their sound as the four-piece sound great and put on a performance that shows they could be headlining venues of this size someday soon.

Ben Barlow mentions early on about Neck Deep playing their first gig in Manchester to approximately 5 people in Sound Control. How things have changed in a few short years as a large white curtain drops at the top of the show, revealing the band to the sold out, 3500 strong Mancunian crowd. With that many people to entertain, the Wrexham pop-punkers decided to pull out all the stops, with confetti canons, CO2 jets, pyro flames, laser-like effects and an ego ramp leading up to the drummer that they may have borrowed from Iron Maiden.

But all the tricks and effects won’t save you if the music can’t back it up, and luckily Neck Deep are in no trouble there. It’s a nineteen song setlist with very little respite along the way, and about half those tracks are from this year’s The Peace and the Panic album. By the time the final chords of Where Do We Go When We Go ring out and the confetti begins to settle on this, the final UK date of the tour, the sweaty and ecstatic faces of those pouring out onto the streets show why Neck Deep are sitting firmly atop the UK pop punk pile.