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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Manchester Orchestra: Live in Cleveland

By Nick Carrabine

I’m not one to take risks.

Anyone who knows me knows I do not make any plans in advance between mid-April and mid-June due to the NBA Playoffs. I couldn’t stomach the thought of missing a Cleveland Cavaliers playoff game.

Wedding? Birthday party? Funeral? Forget it. I may go, but I’m certainly not planning on going in advance.

So when one of my good friend called me while I was on vacation in Las Vegas (where I was taking many life-altering risks, all of which, did not work out to my benefit) to ask me if I wanted a ticket to the Manchester Orchestra/Thrice concert on April 20, I practically hung up on him.

Not because I don’t like Manchester Orchestra, quite the contrary, actually.

I just couldn’t fathom the thought of committing myself to something when there was a possibility Game 2 of the first round of the playoffs could have been held the same night of the concert.

However, as the day went on, I realized just how much I love Manchester Orchestra and although I had seen them twice in the past six months, I hadn’t seen them headline (or in this case, co-headline) a show yet. I also took into account that it was only the first round of the playoffs as there is absolutely no chance I would have agreed to such a preposterous request later in May or God forbid, June.

So, I took a risk, called him back, told him to buy the tickets and for once in my life, it worked out to my advantage.

Cavs playoff schedule came out a week later and there was no Cavs playoff game. High five!

Now, back to the concert.

Manchester Orchestra was originally supposed to take the stage at 7:45 p.m. for an hour long set list, however they started before 7:30.

While the show was labeled as a co-headlining concert, it was clear that most fans in the audience were there for Thrice.

If Manchester didn’t win them over, similar to how they won me over the first time I saw them live back in October, I’d be shocked.

Contrary to most bands who come out on stage swinging and pick a rather energetic song to start their set, lead singer Andy Hull, donning a blue Cavs Shaquille O’Neal shirt under a red flannel, came out on stage looking like a cross between Shaq himself, Eddie Vedder and comedian Zach Galifianakis and took the energetic “The Only One” and turned it into a soft solo-electric number that set the tone for the 70 minute set list.

The band’s set consisted of mostly songs from their 2009 breakout album Mean Everything to Nothing (“The Only One,” “Shake it Out,” “I’ve Got Friends,” “Pride,” “100 Dollars,” “My Friend Marcus” and “Everything to Nothing.”)

The band also played two new songs, one of which was another soft solo-electric number from Hull, however it sounded rather incomplete as it clocked in at less than two minutes.

The only disappointment for me during the show was the lack of material from the band’s 2006 debut I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child. The band only played four songs including “Now That You’re Home,” “Where Have You Been?” “I Can Barely Breathe” and “Sleeper 1972.” They neglected “Wolves at Night” which was a song they had performed on many late-night talk shows in the past.

Let’s get this out of the way, if you’ve never heard of Manchester Orchestra, or have heard of them, but never seen them live, please do yourself a favor and search YouTube for some live performances of “Where Have You Been?” (For the record, my personal favorite is when they perform it live with Jesse Lacey of Brand New and Kevin Devine which is usually the first live video that comes up on YouTube.)

Not only does the band take one of the best songs of the decade and perform it live, they turn it into a completely different monster on stage.

Tuesday night, they took the six-minute plus song and turned it into a ten minute jam session with, at one point, five drummers on stage including one portion where Hull took off his guitar, handed it to keyboardist and back-up drummer Chris Freeman and switched duties with him in the middle of the song.

The performance of that song alone was worth the price of admission, by far. It’s absolutely haunting.

The band completed their set with “Shake it Out” and left the stage shortly before 8:45 p.m., probably with more fans then they came there with.

Only one video was available on YouTube from the show, but here are some videos to get to know the band and a few songs from Thrice (who I didn't review in this):

"The Only One" Live

"Where Have You Been?"

"I've Got Friends"

Thrice: "Beggars"

Thrice: "The Artist in the Ambulance"


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