Reviews

Manchester Orchestra: 11 November 2011 - Philadelphia

Bernadette Kooi

As talented as Hull obviously is, the members of Manchester Orchestra are also his musical equals.

Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra

City: Philadelphia
Venue: Electric Factory
Date: 2011-11-11

Andy Hull, the lead vocalist and creative force behind Manchester Orchestra, may be atypical of contemporary musicians and even more so for a rock & roll frontman. Hull breaks the from this stereotype by his seeming rejection of attention. Instead he places the music in the forefront in a natural, yet unusual combination of brooding,intellectualized lyrics and raw, powerful vocals. Hull’s lyrics and music are self-reflective, complex, and intense, while his relaxed on-stage demeanor makes it seem like you are watching your childhood friend follow his musical dreams.The result is an odd meld of a Jim Morrison-esque lyrical poetry with a Jerry Garcia ease.

Hull once remarked in an interview that he wanted the power to shock with sound. If that is his goal he should consider it accomplished. Those unfamiliar with Manchester Orchestra’s music would not have been able to anticipate the sonic tidal wave that the band was about to unleash as the band took the stage. As they casually walked on stage at the Electric Factory, Hull quietly asked the crowd, “Everybody okay?”. Barely waiting for a response, the band exploded into “April Fool”. The audience responded in kind, sending its own wave of energy right back to the band. Feeling this enthusiasm, Hull stepped away from the microphone and toward the crowd to sing. Without hesitation the crowd joined in, singing “I’ve got that rock and I’ve got that roll” so loudly they nearly overpowered the band. “April Fool” served as a perfect example of the dichotomy that Hull brings to Manchester Orchestra.

As talented as Hull obviously is, the members of Manchester Orchestra are also his musical equals. One cannot help but be impressed by the prowess of Chris Freeman, who primarily plays keyboards. However, when the music necessitates, Freeman spins around in his chair to help out with percussion by joining in on his mini kit. Not that drummer Tim Very needs any help. His performance was tight and, almost as importantly, loud enough that his drums could be physically felt even at the back of the venue. The intensity of the Orchestra is taken up a few notches by Jonathan Corley on bass and Robert McDowell on guitar. Both provide not only solid musicianship, but also the head banging that is a natural accompaniment.

While the show was not sold out, it must have come close. The Factory is mostly standing room, but there are 2 sets of bleachers at the back of the main floor. Although people were not standing shoulder to shoulder, the audience filled every available spot and the bleachers were filled the entire night with teenagers enjoying the show.

After coming out swinging with “April Fool”, the band played the slightly less heavy “100 Dollars” which kept the audience singing loudly. From there the band played "Pride", which was much more melodic, but just as intense as the first two songs. In fact, "Pride" showcased Hull’s aptitude for writing intense, angry music that is, at the same time, not musically heavy. And this is the genius of Manchester Orchestra.

One would be mistaken to dismiss Manchester Orchestra as another whiney rock group begging for the listener’s attention to tell them how pissed off they are. Instead the band writes about experiences and situations that are common to the human condition. The listener is drawn in and shares the emotional journey rather than remaining separate. Hull seems to be aware of this, too. During “Deer”, he reworked part of the lyrics to thank the audience for going to the show. For this performance, Hull played “The Only One” with only his guitar accompanying his voice. At one point in the song, he broke into a cappella. There he was, on stage alone with no guitar to hide behind, no band mates to lean on; just his own voice filling the silent space of the Electric Factory. The audience was captivated.

Manchester Orchestra ended the set with “The Party’s Over (No Children)” but the crowd wasn’t ready to leave just yet. With an empty stage the audience petitioned for the band’s return in chant. The band returned for an encore and wrapped up the show with “The River”. The audience seemed contented, at least for the time being.

Songs performed (not 100% accurate set list:

April Fool, 100 Dollars, Pride, My Friend Marcus, Pale Black Eye, Pensacola, I’ve Got Friends, Shake It Out, Deer, I Can Barely Breathe, Colly Strings, The Only One, The Party’s Over (No Children)[encore break]

Virgin, Everything to Nothing, The River

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image