Nine Black Alps finally returned to Manchester after an absence of 3 years to play an intimate gig at the Ruby Lounge in support of new album Sirens released a couple of weeks earlier.
The first time I saw this band was back in early 2006 when they played a sold out gig to 2000 people at the Academy 1 in Manchester at the end of their Everything Is album tour. Having received major play on MTV, playing the big UK festivals and touring in the US it was surely only a matter of time before they went into territory now occupied by the likes of Biffy Clyro. However the next time I caught The Alps in 2007 they were playing Club Nirvana in Wigan to a half empty room, what the hell happened?
The Alps have never had a sound that would see them grace the front cover of the NME, playing a raw energetic sound far removed from the Two Door Cinema Clubs of this world. Never being ones to play the music business game sticking to their grunge guns it’s perhaps not surprising to see them playing at the Ruby Lounge rather than the MEN arena tonight.
Playing to a hardcore hometown fan base back in Manchester The Alps were always going to be welcomed with open arms and so it proved to be. The pounding drums signaling set opener Not Everyone had the crowd rocking and from there the hits came think and fast, Buy Nothing, Cosmopolitan, Burn Faster. As usual, in-between song banter is kept to a minimum, the band preferring to let their power cords do the talking. The pace was relentless as the big guns were wheeled out, Unsatisfied made an appearance mid set to the delight of the crowd, the guitar intro still sounding as glorious as ever.
The new songs fitted perfectly with the classic tracks, Living In A Dream taking them as close to punk as they have ever been. Heavier Than Water had The Alps on the home straight, this track being my personal favourite, taking their sound down a different route, dropping into a dark moody breakdown with a whispered vocal before slamming back into a wall of noise. Get Your Guns had the crowd bouncing to make the low ceiling Ruby Lounge even sweatier. Following a rousing version of Along For The Ride, Sam announced ‘Goodnight Manchester’ before launching into traditional set closer of Ironside which is always followed by Shot Down. Of course The Alps never do an encore and with that it was over, an hour of power, energy and good old-fashioned loud guitar!
Walking out of the gig I did find myself wondering that, given the band were supporting their recently released album the set contained relatively few tracks from Sirens, which in my opinion is their best work since their brilliant debut album. I’d have loved to heard tracks such as Phosphorescence, Hand Me Down, Penny Cinderella and the beautiful acoustic Waiting Room. Hopefully future gigs will see these little gems shine in their own right.
The Alps have always done their own thing and long may this continue, a breath of raw fresh air in an often stagnant sound of copy cat bands jumping on the latest scene.