TR Manchester Review

Review by Dave Stainton (Switch to

Like many here to see OH tonight I thought there was some sort of youth club disco going on at the main Academy given the number of teenage ‘punks’ hanging around and I was amazed to be accosted by a Manc tout asking for spares. A quick squint at the listing on the door showed there was some band called Flogging Molly on, who I must confess, I ain’t never heard of. Still, they seem quite popular, but not for me...

Anyway, once inside the Student Union building it was immediately more obvious that this was where Todd was playing. I’m not a huge fan of the Academy 2 but at least the queue for the bar was reasonably small and getting a good spec front and centre was easy to achieve, even if I kept up my 100% record of attracting a weirdo right in front of me who annoyed me for most of the second half by mock-swooning in the heat and talking to her partner. If you don’t want to see the gig, why bother, go to the back and get out of the way of those of us who do? Anyway, minor gripes, onto the action. Namely ‘Love In Action’. “We’re not f*ckin’ around, you’ve got trains to catch’ growls TR as they kick in to LIA, the first of many public transport announcements tonight. Thankfully, I’d opted to drive else I’d have missed the encores, more of which later.

Next up was ‘Walls Came Down’ which I confess I’m not familiar with but which grooved along nicely and gave me the chance to check out bass player Rachel, who is stunning, and a fluid player to boot. While I’m dishing out the compliments on looks, just what is Kasim drinking? I don’t think the guy has aged in 25 years! Oh and TR has been working out as well, just as well as he thrashes around like a guy half his age, occasionally wrecking the stage furniture as he did so. “This stage is too small for an arena rock performance,” he observes a little ruefully as a tech repairs the mic stand. “Black Maria” is superb, then they go ‘way back into pre-history’ and the “Can’t Explain-like” riff to “Open My Eyes” is reeled out to slack jaws and wild applause.

“We’re gonna treat you to an oldie cos we’ve got a big surprise comin up” says TR as we get a rocked-up “I Saw The Light”, cue smiles a mile wide. The ‘surprise’ being the whole of the Arena played end to end. Not much of a surprise, even to those of us who had studiously avoided set-lists from previous shows on the tour. I have to say I’d probably heard the new CD only a couple of times before tonight, but will now be revisiting it for sure. The live versions blew me away, even those I didn’t quite ‘get’ on first listen, such as ‘Mercenary’ and ‘Bardo’. ‘Courage’ is freaking fantastic, and Strike sounds even more like what AC/DC should be doing today than ever, nice touch with the audience participation bit as well. ‘Mountaintop’ is the new ‘Bang The Drum’, even if for me it’s too obvious with the ‘higher, higher’ chants, don’t think it’ll catch on in the Premiership. Still, how about those Phillies eh?

An hour later, the band take their bows after an incendiary ‘Manup’, but we all stamp and clap and are rewarded with ‘Couldn’t I Just Tell You’ one of my personal faves and which I’ve never seen live, I was one happy punter. Then ‘Just One Victory’ had us all clapping and singing along (is it just me or should Obama have walked out to this at Grant Park on Tuesday night?) and that was that. Absolutely brilliant throughout, TR was obviously having a blast again, something I don’t think you could have said about the Liars tour. Name me another rock star, 40 years into his career who would have the balls or talent to release a guitar heavy album of melodic, pissed off rock songs and then play the whole thing on a subsequent tour? Good luck with that one. Todd, I salute you. Hurry back to us soon.

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11/06/2008 - Academy 2 - Manchester, UK

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