As this is the first live review of the year, and also my first gig of the year, it is important to remember I haven’t been to a gig in a while (barring new years and all the ones in december) and thusly have completely forgotten all gig etiquette (completely fair). Due to that, while at the gig, I got into several fights with strangers, all completely unprovoked on their part, stole some fairly expensive music gear (guitars) and called in a bomb threat mid-way through the headline act.
Hey-ho! It’s easy to forget how to behave responsibly sometimes. In order to go forth with my new year's resolution to be kinder to myself, all of these parts of the evening are omitted from the review. I’ll learn one day! Prison sentences aside, this was a great gig. It was at the Deaf Institute, in Manchester, where I’m from! A great venue I’ve not been to since before the pandemic. I’m glad it still looks the same, rather than hosting some of the more egregious design choices many venues have opted into since covid (for example, the horrible ‘for sale’ signs plastered over boarded up windows).
The first band of the evening were Captain Starlett, an indie-rock group from York. We missed the first bit of the set because the band were more punctual than we were but nonetheless it was an enjoyable and raucous opening act of romp-worthy, shimmering guitars. It was a nice soundtrack to the room gradually filling up until it was full to the point of being borderline unbearable because I’m getting older and I’m not drinking this month (lame) and I find getting squished difficult. But I’m glad it was that full for the bands playing, obviously.
After that were Autocamper, who I have seen a few times and consistently get better. They’re probably the band tonight most suited to supporting the Vaselines, with the sound and dynamic not being a million miles away from one another. I think last time I saw them play they actually did a Vaselines cover, but I was drinking then so I don’t know if I’ve just made that up. They didn’t tonight anyway, as that would be odd, but the original songs they did play were very good too.
Boy and girl vocals always sound nice together, and paired with the jangly slacker sound I am in bliss. I have a tape of their songs, but I have no tape player, and therefore can’t listen to it, so the songs always sound fresh and exciting when I hear them. I still want a tape player though, so if anyone has a spare, perhaps a Christmas present duplicate from someones idiot mum (“Mum, you got me this tape deck last year, you fucking moron” etc.) then I will accept it as a gift. I won’t pay for it.
I coughed mid-way through the set and Niamh, the vocalist/keys player climbed off stage, pushed past everyone in the crowd, gripped me by the throat and said “If you ever fucking interrupt my set again I’ll take you out back and shoot you in the fucking head”. I believed her as well, as she quite clearly had a handgun strapped to her waist and had been regularly flashing it to the crowd throughout the gig, probably as a means to intimidate us all. Other than that the set was awesome.
Oh Hippo were the best band on the bill, not including the other three that were just as good. I’d never seen them before but was incredibly impressed by their set. Post-gig I listened to some of their songs. ‘Party’ was my favourite. The vocals made me sway my hips like a big girl's blouse. Incredibly catchy stuff. I also enjoyed the track ‘Poog’, mistakenly read as ‘Pog’ initially. Good track name either way. I’d like to see them live again, as the room was very full and I had to stand in a place where I couldn’t really see, my own fault for being small really, and so I technically didn’t see them live, I heard them live. But I liked what I heard a lot!
The headline act was The Vaselines. Legends in their own right, the lo-fi heroes played through 25 of their tracks over the course of about 90 minutes. Every track was a joyful nostalgia trip. It was beautiful to see a band that has been going for so long be able to have so much fun on stage. Between songs they were joking and fooling around in the way you’d expect from a band that had only just started and still felt just pure love for it.
None of the set was marred by anything illegal I did (had forgotten gig etiquette) which was nice as I thought all the fighting would ruin it. Instead it was sweet and full of love. As I watch so many smaller, local bands it is always a novelty to see a band that I’ve liked since I was a teenager. There is something very surreal about it. But The Vaselines are humble and abrasive and tender. Good fun!
The gig was over, so I ran back to the train station as fast as I could from the police trying to salvage anything I’d stolen. Out of breath and covered in blood, I popped myself back onto the train and thought ‘what a good night’.