AWOLNATION - Manchester Academy 3
Live Review

AWOLNATION – Manchester Academy 3

Manchester Academy 3, a venue we haven’t had the pleasure of in quite some time, can fit a lot more people in than we remember. Then again our memories of this venue are a collection of obscure pop punk gigs and half empty crowds running into each other.

The first band Kongos enter the stage, a band we’re ashamed to say we know very little about. The only thing we do know is that we were told earlier in the day by one of that nights performers ‘They are four brothers and they all look like Owen Wilson’. As it happens they don’t look like Owen Wilson. Kongos, are four brothers from South Africa, the sons of John Kongos, a singer songwriter who had two number 4 hits in 1971. As they take to the stage, we begin to get anxious as one of the member’s picks up an accordion, which really isn’t an instrument we enjoy. Kongos start to play and straight away any apprehension over the accordion is relieved. This band have an incredible pulsing rhythm that instantly gets heads in the room nodding. Fusing rock, with what can only be described as African folk, they are quickly gaining fans. Mid-way through their set they are joined on stage by Rapper Moe’s Art who provides the vocals for a sensational cover of The Beatles, Come Together. Moe’s Art rapping gives a sweet authority to this bands bass heavy rhythm. Kongos finish up by sliding seamlessly into another great sounding folk track which is well received by the audience who give Kongos a rapturous applause.

Next to perform is ITCH. ITCH is Ex- King Blues frontman Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox’s new solo project. After releasing two EP’s for free digital download ITCH has hit the road supporting AWOLNATION to bolster support for his own headlining tour later in the month. ITCH opens with the track Spooky Kids and there is a great sense of energy and attitude within his performance, but it’s underlined by a certain nervousness. This nervousness means that his backing band, for the first song or two, overshadows ITCH and it becomes a group effort instead of the solo project it should be. As ITCH starts to win over the crowd he starts to regain his confidence and his passion for words strengthens his performance. His set is broken up by an intense piece of spoken word, which riles the crowd up and every song after has more and more of the crowd moving. His final song is London’s Burning and most of the crowd is now moving; as he jumps into the audience he is surrounded by raised hands moving up and down at his command, quickly turning the room around from the unsure masses into ITCH fans.

Last up its AWOLNATION and as always the headlining act has attracted people from the back of the room to come right to the front and its filling up quickly. The room is unusually eclectic, with all sorts of genres of people hanging around with a certain expectational buzz. AWOLNATION, fronted by Aaron Bruno, are in the UK promoting themselves after receiving a lot of attention in the US from their double platinum single Sail. The crowd erupts as soon as AWOLNATION start their first track and they don’t slow down. This isn’t the pop band we expected; they have an exceptional rock and roll sound, an incredibly tight driving rhythm and Aaron Bruno has complete control of the crowd, conducting them like his own personal orchestra of movement. It becomes clear very quickly that this is a band that understands the art of a stage show. Song after song has the audience in frenzy as AWOLNATION move from Rock n Roll to American Alt Rock with ease and the audience don’t register the change. A number of commands from Bruno mean the crowd are hugging, getting down on one knee to jump up on command and synchronizing head banging. Musically this band is powerful, controlled and precise and everyone is having a great time, so much so when it comes to finish, AWOLNATION perform 3 encores.

These are three fantastic bands and we would implore you to go and see each of them individually; they are three different acts with a similar passion and skill level and seeing them all together made for a great show.

Venue: Manchester Academy 3
Support Band: Itch, Kongos

Share this!