Beautiful, multi-layered, intelligent, powerful, heartfelt, honest, and just straight-up fucking amazing. These are the words that describe a performance by Manchester Orchestra. They are not larger than life rock stars trying to be more than human, they are just down to earth artists that make great art that everyone can enjoy. You can rest assured that when Manchester Orchestra takes their positions on stage, you are going to have some good laughs at the between-song witty band dialogue and you are also about to have an emotional experience that scratches at the inner parts of your soul.
I have seen Manchester Orchestra before, but there was something very different about this performance. One, it was not a 20 minute set, and two, the band had even more energy than the first time I saw them. This may have been because they were headlining and also they were not touring on a single like “I’ve Got Friends” (that it turns out they didn’t even write.) The band them self revealed this bit of information about the song halfway through the show. Front man Andy Hull talked over a cheering crowd that he had to quiet several times by telling them to, “shut the fuck up,” (in a non-serious Zach Galifianakis way) that the band didn’t know what to expect the night of this show; they didn’t even know if anyone would show up to see their performance. This fact makes me respect the band beyond the music for being very honest with no facade . But I could not help but think, “Have they not heard their own music?” Its always something special when a band does not know how good they really are.
The band played all the greats, including one of the most powerful songs I have ever heard. “The River” is a song with music and lyrics that will turn your heart inside out with emotion, and I was not the only one feeling this way. The crowd was perfectly in sync with Andy Hull and it was hard to tell the difference between the two. It was really something to hear and see. It was a bunch of teenagers completely in touch with the band; they were singing their hearts out. Witnessing this graceful relationship between fan and artist is what its really about. It’s one thing that always goes unwritten, when a band writes such a powerful brand of music that the music itself is no longer theirs, its the fans’. The fan that, no matter what is going on in his or her life, can go to this show and forget their problems and just enjoy themselves. This is the kind of music that Manchester Orchestra makes and this is why they are so great. They are a band with a gravitational pull that cannot be denied.
By Josh Davis
Pictures By Rebecca Armstrong