October 4th, 2017 @ Ritz Raleigh
It was a busy week for RDU Music and the Ritz as we attended two shows in two nights. In the famous words of Roger Murtaugh, “I’m getting too old for this shit.” It’s a good thing that Manchester Orchestra is incapable of disappointing an audience. Since it was a Wednesday night, I was unable to catch openers Foxing and Tiger’s Jaw. That was unfortunate because I hear good things about both of those bands. Rain check?
Manchester Orchestra brought seven tracks off of their excellent new album, A Black Mile to the Surface, to the Ritz along with a healthy dose of back catalog tracks, making for a fun and varied 17-song setlist. They opened the night with the first three tracks off of Black Mile in front of a surprising amount of gear. MO brought enough stage lights to make stoned Pink Floyd fans wander in off the street thinking that a laser light show was breaking out. There was also an auxiliary instrument station, complete with a microphone that invited a revolving door of members from opening bands to join in for a variety of songs, adding some additional live texture that I am sure was as fun for the guest musicians as it was for the crowd. That was a real classy move by Andy Hull and co.
As the set progressed, I quickly realized that I hadn’t written a scathing piece about shitty rock music fans in a long time. It’s a good thing that I was standing directly behind the Jolly Drunk Giant and his cadre of tiny whores. They provided me with a nearly endless supply of material. Thanks, you gangly prick.
In case my ardent misanthropy hadn’t shone through in any of the other pieces I have written for this website, please allow me to express my feelings on cell phones at concerts: fucking stop it. If you want to whip it out and take a couple of snapshots to commemorate the event, more power to you. I am not an unreasonable man. I do it myself. But if you want to record 30 minutes of video when you are standing directly next to the stage-left speaker stack, maybe ask an adult first. We’d be happy to tell you that you are a ludicrously tall moron and are ruining the experience of literally everyone behind you so that you can get 4 Insta pity likes on a video that is wholly unwatchable due to the atrocious audio quality and your inability to fucking hold still.
To top it off, when my view wasn’t 89% obstructed by this gargantuan monkey-person, his tiny girlfriend managed to snake the final 11% by holding her PBR tall boy as high as possible while, naturally, screaming, “Woo!” at the top of her lungs. It’s really hard to drink your PBR when it’s a foot above your head, young lady. That beer was also roughly eleventy dollars (thanks, Live Nation…) so maybe take it easy over there. I love Manchester Orchestra as much as you but seeing Andy bathed in multi-colored electric light didn’t make me forget how to pound a tall boy. This ain’t my first rodeo.
Oh, wait. I was supposed to be writing about the Manchester Orchestra set. Shit. Why didn’t anyone stop me? [Maybe because you are your own editor and are drunk with power. -Ed.] Regardless, the real star of the show was Manchester Orchestra, who brought an immensely powerful set, ripe with thumping bass, soaring harmonies, and poignant lyrics. I had seen MO in the past but I think they are really proud of Black Mile, and it showed through in everything they did at the Ritz.
Andy was giving 100% on the high notes. He was not phoning it in at all. On personal favorites such as “Colly Strings” and the pre-encore closer, “The River,” Andy was able to evoke the same intense level of feeling from me live as he does on wax. I was visibly affected by the sheer power of, “I’m gonna leave you the first chance I get,” followed by a mic drop to end the set. Had Manchester Orchestra actually ended the set on “The River,” I might have been forced to walk out of the Ritz holding back a tear. Luckily, the crowd was graced with an encore of “I Can Feel a Hot One” in order to let the crowd know that Andy was indeed capable of feeling love again, followed by the apt closer of Black Mile, “The Silence.” It left me eternally grateful that Manchester Orchestra “let me open my eyes and be glad that I got here.”