Alphabeat - Manchester Academy

Say the word - awesome. What a night. You won't believe me, I know. Partly because you weren't there, mostly because you wouldn't want to. But trust me, this was a gig and a half. Those of us who'll instinctively be saying 'Fascination' when those Single of the Year arguments start in a few weeks, are ahead of the game. Because, further prompted by those spectacularly irresistable three minutes, we not only fell for the glittery plink-plonk of follow-up '10,000 Nights', but we even went and gave their bloody album a fair hearing ! Whatever next ? For what it's worth, 'This is Alphabeat' balances a savvy take on 80s-tinged indie-pop with a deliciously dark underbelly of brooding ballads.

So, not quite sure what to expect tonight from Denmark's finest (damn you, faint praise !) Music-making aside, I know they look a bit dodgy. To say the least. All that 'We're-from-Scandanavia-but-we-love-daft-dayglo-clothes-and-acting-the(mountain)-goat' schtick puts me on alert too. I mean, they're hardly pitching tents with The f***ing Scissor Sisters but, minus the usual safety clauses (jeans, men only, anthems) you can understand why Jonty and Edward from the rugby club, clearing the SU dancefloor during the first bar ("Fashion ... is our passion !"), might find them a bit too, well ... gay for comfort. Wedding ring firmly attached, and eleven year old daughter impressed speechless when our passes get us into the new VIP bar and balcony upstairs (Very nice - you should try it !), hopes are high. Let's hope they're half decent live, eh ? Jeez. They don't so much tear the motherf***er down as turn up the next day with JCBs and raze the place to the ground. This is arguably the most genuinely happening gig I've seen in 2008. Of all the acts I've seen fill this place this year, none have infused it with quite so much unfettered electricity. From the opening 'Fantastic Six', greeted by a roar no less, Manchester goes nuts. Seriously. The highlights - '10,000 Nights', 'What is Happening', 'Girlfriend', a deliciously extended 'Fascination' - set the place bouncing all the way to the back. Sure they look a bit ropey but they sound fantastic. Stine grins throughout. Anders tells us that tonight is their biggest gig to date. I'm buggered if I can name their four band mates, to be honest, but they display yellow trousers, leather ties and play a blinder. They play all of the album and two new ones. After an hour they exit and I've all but forgotten they've not played 'Fascination'. Yet ...

So, a point for those of us for whom smart, catchy, skewed uber-pop keeps the corpuscles racing. And you lot, you lovers of dour, over-earnest, lumpen, safety-in-numbers 'alternative' rock ... a point docked. Little Miss K, slowly inching towards the Paramore/Cute is What we Aim For/My Chemical Romance axis of evil, is still Pop enough to pronounce it "amazing." Two and a half thousand beaming Mancunians turn the Academy into a sweatbox. We can't all be wrong.

Last updated: 18/04/2018 21:39:14

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