Opening the gig was supporting act, Kongos, an American band that delivered tantalising guitar riffs and the amazing sound of heavy American rock overlapped with Eminem-esque rapping. Trust me, this worked. After a couple of songs it became apparent that Kongos was not just any old opening act. This band has some serious talent and is one to watch out for in coming months.
The next thing to take place on that stage was really quite remarkable. As Itch hyped up the crowd with his shout outs for Manchester, emotion started to ripple up through his very being. This spilled out in waves of anger, protest and passion as he spat his ingenious lyrics out across the venue. Face scrunched up, arms punching the air, he delivered a performance that seemed to represent the inner most angst of every political protester that ever lived. Delivering his solo-project tracks, he had the audience sweating, screaming, dancing, clapping and roaring in appreciation for his ability to put into words the complexities of politics and a f***ed off society.
About half way through his set, the room was silenced. No music played and barely a breath was let out as Itch delivered one of the most bone-chilling pieces of poetry I’ve ever heard. A white light shone up on his face as, rhyme after rhyme, words spilled out of his mouth, gripping the room in a trance-like state. Introducing his final track with the words: “Everyone who’s still got the anger, still got the hurt, anyone who still feels f***ing anything – London Is Burning”, Itch jumped into the crowd and sang directly into the faces of his fans, bringing his set to an explosive end.
One would think that the audience had no energy left after this hyper, emotional performance. If they didn’t, all credit goes to AWOLNATION who had the room jumping, fist-pumping, swaying, sitting on the floor and reaching for the goddamned ceiling for an hour straight. AWOL's vocals ripped out across the room, track after track, as he head banged, danced and praised the musicians behind him. Synth, keyboard, guitar and drums perforated the realms of musical creation with the quirky, diverse sound that is so unique to AWOL.
Bruno made it clear that he must be connected with the audience, asking for the stage lights to be dimmed so that he could see it better. His stage-presence was, quite frankly, one of the most energising I have seen at any live music-show. As AWOL’s set came close to its end, the lights were dimmed to an eerie blue and ‘Sail’ was played in all its evocative, atmospheric glory. Having loved this song so much, I was afraid of disappointment in its live deliverance, but was completely blown away when it was played to perfection, brimming with raw emotion and musical ability.
Leaving the gig I was stunned and refreshed by the scale of these artists’ talent, who will make music history, I’m damned sure.