Manchester’s Ruby Lounge saw the return of adopted Mancunians from Humberside Orphan Boy headline a packed bill with support from hometown boys Frazer King and Velocets as well as Midlands band The Antics.
With four bands to get through things kicked off early, but that wasn’t a problem for Velocets who soon had the people gathered round the bar down the front. These young lads don’t lack for confidence which showed by dropping in a new song only rehearsed a few times in the week, it’s not even got a name, but when it does look out for it, with an insanely catchy guitar riff and some frantic paced drumming this track has real potential. I saw these guys a few weeks ago and felt there was a marked improvement with the band sounding a lot tighter, which is even more important in a 3-piece, Push Me In sounding particular good with a cracking solo. The short set closed with Tell It To Your Kids, the We Are Scientists-esc high-octane ride and Naked their strongest song to date, which both feature on their EP that’s doing the rounds at the moment. If Velocets carry on this rate of progression they’ll definitely be going places this year.
Next up Midlands outfit The Antics who are coming off the back of a very successful 2012 which saw them support the mighty Shed Seven and were personally picked by Tom Clarke to support The Enemy. I’ve got to say these guys really impressed me, blending a mix of Screamadelica era Primal Scream with a Happy Mondays dance floor philosophy, fused with a blast of good old fashioned sleazy rock n roll. The addition of some great female backing vocals added a new dimension to the mix and really worked. Higher was a stand out track that had the now sizeable Ruby Lounge crowd grooving away and Morning Light with its old school piano house stabs and euphoric chorus went down a storm. The set closed with The Party’s Over which takes on a dark, heavy and moodier vibe and whilst sounded good didn’t quite fit after the party which had just gone. A band worth looking out for.
The penultimate band to take to the stage in front of a now packed audience were Frazer King, who were born out of the same South Manchester scene as Dirty North and The Janice Graham Band. I’d heard good things about these guys, they have been getting plenty of support over the last couple of years from the likes of John Robb, BBC 6 Music and supporting Manchester legends James. The tracks I’d checked out sounded interesting, with the Pouges style blend of folk and punk on Eunuch Growl and Pea Factory, so I was looking to forward to seeing them live. On the night I’m afraid the performance left me feeling flat, for some reason I just didn’t connect with it. There were plenty of people enjoying it though so maybe I was in the minority here!
And so it was time for tonight’s headliner Orphan Boy, the five plus years since the release of their debut album Shop Local has been a real rollercoaster with the high being the brilliant second album Passion, Pain & Loyalty, down to calling it a day in 2011 after becoming disillusioned with the whole thing. Fortunately for us the trio have had a change of heart, in no small part thanks to support from Tom Clarke of The Enemy. This was the first time I’d seen these guys, I’d been told how good they were live and I hadn’t been mis-informed, it’s fair to say they blew the roof off the Ruby Lounge! Set opener Song For Annie kicked things off superbly, an anthem of a song that had the fiercely loyal crowd going for it from the off.
The set contained a mix of tracks from both albums and there was a noticeable difference between the songs from them, tracks such as Middle Class Roots and Satellites from the debut album sounding raw and punky with a touch of Jam ‘modness’ compared to the fuller sounding tracks from the second album like Popsong and Harbour Lights incorporating synths and keyboards creating a real atmosphere. From the back of the room where I was stood watching the band effortlessly tear through a stellar set list that had the crowd dancing and bouncing in equal measures I found myself asking “Why the hell are these guys not massive?” I suppose it’s the ‘old right place right time’ scenario, well the right place and right time was the Ruby Lounge tonight as the rabble rousing sing-a-long of Some Frontier brought the set to a close in chaotic scenes that saw the crowd invade the stage in a triumphant climax, the band and audience on stage in union!
*Pictures courtesy of Trust A Fox Photography