I think that the last time I was O2 Ritz in Manchester, it was 2015. My brother’s now ex-girlfriend was moving away for work and her leaving party found its way to a Power Ballad club night. It’s still the last time I’ve paid to get in to such an event.
The music was the cheesy brilliance I expected from a guy selecting songs on his computer accompanied by a few dancers with inflatable instruments. What I remember, though, was the fact that I was enjoying it far more than other people and certainly more than one obviously happy soul who wanted to take me outside because I failed to fall over my friend’s handbag (which was on the floor) after he barged in to me and I had the audacity to turn round to see what was happening.
Turning up at the Ritz last night, there was also a chance to by a ticket on the door for the very strange price of £21.13 to see We Are Scientists – a band I’ve loved since their first major album release With Love And Squalor. The band are predominantly a two piece consisting of guitarist and vocalist Keith Murray and bass guitarist Chris Cain, but who have used various recording and touring musicians, most notably Andy Burrows of ex-Razorlight fame (although his solo stuff is awesome).
It’s not really been easy to describe their sound. It’s indie rock, the kind of which Franz Ferdinand were peddling in the noughties when the aforementioned With Love And Squalor was released. That album was named after an F Scott Fitzgerald short story about thrilling, chaotic nights in a big city and that was where We Are Scientists differentiated themselves from the rest of the scene at the time – they were chaotic and there was a syncopation to their tunes that (backed up by their aesthetics) meant that they worked wonderfully but didn’t really always make sense. Six albums later, they’re doing the same thing.
The show at the Ritz was opened by local band The Lottery Winners who were excellent musically but had a strange persona when it came to crowd participation – doing a sing back and complaining it’s not very good when there’s only a handful people not at the bar… The Pale Whites I’m struggling to find anything to say about.
WAS entered the stage to Blue Moon by The Marcels and played an 18 song set of tunes from their 6 latest albums punctuated with their usual comedy interludes including stories about Theresa May offering advice for their latest album and Chris’ attempt to buy the Nike store (to live in) in Manchester earlier that day.
The thing that always strikes me when I watch them play is how good they are as musicians. I don’t always appreciate intricacies of music when listening to it but watching Keith especially on guitar always gives me a realisation of how underrated they are as a band.
There I was, grinning like a Cheshire Cat at the guitar solos, singing along and laughing at the jokes but then I looked around and noticed that, well, I seemed to be one of only a handful people in what was a largely full venue looking like I was having that much fun. This wasn’t a venue of speculative fans either – it’s not the sort of place that you stumble in to and there just so happens to be a band playing.
It reminded me so much of that night in 2015. It was fun, I loved the show, I’d recommend going to see We Are Scientists live to anyone whether they’re a fan or not, but for reasons that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, it would appear that not everyone shared the same view.