The Hours - Manchester Academy
If support acts really do have any effect at all on an audience, The Hours tonight can be held partly responsible for some of the most disorderly scenes I’ve ever seen at a gig. Seriously. Opening for an increasingly popular Kasabian, they attract the kind of respect and enthusiasm you might expect. But, by golly, Serge and Tom owe them a pint or two if they contributed only a couple of degrees of ‘warm up’. It seriously goes off for the headliners; beer flies in non-stop frothing arcs, chunky men approaching middle age form huddles and fist the air, the Leicester outfit’s Glitter band chant-a-longs attracting Banana Splits style ‘nah nahs nahs.’ People, seriously, are f***ing smoking. (Fags. For once, I'm not being metaphorical.) Mmm. I know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll but I don’t think I like it.
I do, however, like The Hours but it’s been a slow, nurturing process. My fault rather than theirs, probably but I'm glad we got there. Kasabian provide enough circus for me to only start to get bored after about an hour of their silly posturing, but The Hours hook me in for their duration. It’s forty-five minutes of elegant, elevated rock ‘n’ roll. Eschewing the dull confines of electric guitar as lead instrument , The Hours focus on the pounding classicality of their rhythms, flecks of piano, a front man who leads with presence and guile. With second album ‘See the Light’ seeing them expand their horizons a touch, really tightening up both the songs and the intent, they’re coming good now. Live, the duo expand to six and they deliver a set that does what all good support turns should do – takes an audience from curious to converted.
Keyboard player Martin Slattery and singer Antony Genn have assembled a smart group of accompanists to help them deliver their piquant, punchy pop. ‘Ali in the Jungle’ is fabulous – people can wring their hands about its “Like Keller in the dark” line but I do love the “Everybody gets knocked down/How quick are you gonna get up ?” hook. ‘See the Light’ is always better with the Sienna Miller starring video but tonight it’s both epic and ethereal, and even out-U2’s the band they’ll soon support at football stadiums around the country. (Tip - go early.) ‘Murder or Suicide’ is the climactic closer and it’s a dark delight, played out over seven minutes. It brings an ovation of genuine warmth. Genn nods as he exits and applauds the crowd - job done. Under-appreciated to say the least, The Hours, too astute to ever resort to tame terrace-isms, are to be reckoned with.