Show Review: 3.2.04
Show Review: 3.2.04 – Hop and Grape, Manchester
By Drew Millward
I have to say that no one told me that I would have to risk life limb for this bloody fanzine. I cannot recommend to anyone a trans-Pennine trek in winds of like I had never seen. You need to start worrying when your car won’t get above 45mph due to mammoth head winds. But thus is my professionalism and dedication to the cause.
I was really in no mood to be going to a gig on a winters Monday night to be honest. There are not many bands or artists that could drew me away from a cup of cocoa and a early night, on a 100 mile round trip to see them on a school night; but Greg Dulli is one who could.
Despite the shit journey to Manchester, I was in pretty high spirits, partially due to the excitement of seeing one of my all time favourite singers/song writers and in part because I was somewhat elated not to have been flattened by an 18-wheeler. But I digress.
We arrived just in time to see the opening of Obi’s set. I had never heard of them prior to the gig, although in the following week they seemed to be everywhere, including being single of the week in ‘The Guide’, and from what I saw of them we shall be hearing much more. If the meek do inherit the earth, Obi, I imagine will hold quite a share of it. Mild mannered doesn’t seem to do them justice. I don’t mean that in any negative way either, it is nice (that’s the word) to see a band that don’t strut around the stage like fighting cocks (the bird), and actually engage with the audience. The music is, as the bands demeanour would suggest. There are clear echoes of Nick Drake, and Syd Barrett I guess that comes from having such an Anglicised sound, which another refreshing aspect of Obi. I don’t want to suggest that there sound I too nice (read, wet), their songs veer from foot tapping pop to some heartfelt ballads and everything in between. I am pleased to say they sound great on record as well. Well done.
As I may have indicated earlier on I am, and have been for many years, big fan of Greg Dulli and The Afghan Whigs. I never got the chance to see the Afghan Whigs so this was the closest I was going to get.
The set mainly comprised of a pretty fair mix of tracks from the two Twilight Singers albums, which are on the whole a lot heavier when played live than on record, which is no bad thing. With the added rock of a live performance the new material sounds even more like ‘Black Love’ era Whigs, with the more upbeat numbers (last single ‘Teenage Waistband’) sounding like they could have come straight from the same sessions as ‘1965’. A large cheer is heard mid set when an interlude between songs (pauses between any tracks were few and far between, Shane would think it very professional) breaks into ‘Gentlemen’, this is only a taste of what is to come. All the new material is good, and had it been anyone else, or band without so many expectations pinned on them, it would have been great. But…
It is not often a band will perform two encores, I personally can only remember Metallica doing such a thing, but once again it happened here. The first made up generally of covers, and a fair amount of horseplay, culminating in an impressive rendition of the outro to ‘Layla’. But I fear the second encore may have been why such a crowd had gathered. From then on we were treated to a succession of Afghan Whigs tunes and a ‘balls out’ rocking cover of ‘Hey Ya’ by Outcast, all played note perfect, almost as a thank you to the crowd for not leaving during the new material. I for one was thankful for this.
As good as the show was I couldn’t help but wish I had just seen the Afghan Whigs. As with Bob Mold, Frank Black and now Greg Dulli, maybe a change isn’t as good as a holiday.