Review: Manchester Orchestra at the Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth (26/09/2014)


The buzz filling the Wedgewood Rooms was nothing like you would have ever experienced before. Manchester Orchestra has collected a unique and loyal fan base over their ten year rise to fame and the excitement for their first UK tour date oozed through the atmosphere. Their new album, COPE, is a raw and energetic sound compared to their usual layered, melodic riffs and a loud hallelujah to the pop punk genre that inspired them. You only had to observe the atmosphere of the room to realise the audience’s anticipation embodied the albums reaction. The show felt like a sold out night at the o2, despite it being moved to smaller venue.

Manchester Orchestra’s support was Kevin Devine and Bad Books – a side project from Manchester Orchestra’s Andy Hull. To put it plainly, Manchester Orchestra kind of supported themselves. Although it sounds strange, this set up proved the diversity of 10714766_10154627407920265_1938803762_nmusic the artists can create. Bad Books captured the entire room with their small set but in no way overshadowed the magnificence of the headlining harmonies to come later in the evening.

Regardless of their previous appearance, when Manchester Orchestra did take to the stage the room fell silent. There was a joyous ripple of gratification with the first few notes and it was clear that both the band and the fans had been waiting for this tour to start. The set began with a vigorous opening that riled the crowd and threw bodies forward. Their incredible rendition of ‘I Can Barely Breathe’ demonstrated how versatile Hull’s vocals are. His delicate chorus hushed the entire room as the audience whispered ‘if you knew I was dying would it change you’ only to be followed with an aggressive expulsion of emotion throughout the next verse.

They mixed their previous full-bodied hits with the new tracks from COPE, consistently keeping the audience on their toes. Manchester Orchestra’s stage presence is fantastic. Not only did they produce solid and invigorating 10717601_10154627407775265_37931771_nversions of their best songs, but also engaged the audience in a way that is rarely seen today. At times the whole room shuddered with laughter at their on stage banter.

As the show came to a close I found myself surprised at how long the band had played yet how many songs were left that I wanted to hear. If it wasn’t for their modest curfew of 11pm, I am certain they could have entertained the audience all night. The crowd begged for an encore, confirming a feat not many bands can claim: Manchester Orchestra have created so many classics not even a 2 hour slot could fit a quarter of them in.

This is a band who has illustrated their journey over the last ten years through their music perfectly and have collected a fan base who lived it with them. Their live show is so moving it stays with you for days after – anyone presented with the opportunity to see them should, as they might just fall in love.

Tickets for Manchester Orchestras UK tour can be bought here:



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Features Editor, Third year History Student and sarcastic Landlady for The Talking Heads.

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