7th April 2006
A heaving, sweaty, sold out Academy is buzzing with anticipation tonight, eager for the appearance of everyone’s current top band, the New York three-piece We Are Scientists, presently riding the crest of the wave of critical approval ensured by their debut album ‘With Love And Squalor’.
First up though are the hotly tipped NME favourites iForward Russia! Within a few minutes they have the crowd’s attention, with their post-punk thrash punctuated by the howling, strangled vocals of front man Tom Woodward. It’s certainly enjoyed by their followers in front of the stage; their lively bouncing is only surpassed in energy by the leaping and writhing of Tom, who more than once seems in genuine danger of garrotting himself with his own mic lead. They tear through the tracks of forthcoming album ‘Give Me A Wall’, tracks with numbers rather than names, including new single ‘Nine’. Tom is joined on vocals by drummer Katie, while guitarist Whiskas addresses the room in a gentle laid-back manner that is at odds with the fractured vigour of the performance. Little wonder that they are one of the bands on the NME tour, slashing as they do through indie complacency, far from being more identikit MTV fodder. They are not an easy band, but a reminder that we need to be challenged.
It’s not long before we are joined by headliners We Are Scientists. They hit the ground running with a powerful rendition of ‘This Scene Is Dead’. After that the dynamism never drops and the quality of their performance does not disappoint. A band noted for their quirky sense of humour, the genial trio banter with the crowd between numbers. Vocalist Keith Murray notes that Manchester audiences love to throw stuff and invites us to do so. They appear to be genuinely enjoying the gig and as a result the trio are awesomely together. They make the most of their limited track listing: previous single ‘It’s A Hit’ is amazing and new single ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Gets Hurt’ has everyone bouncing and shouting along to the chorus. Album tracks, including ‘Can’t Lose’, ‘Callbacks’ and ‘Cash Cow’ are greeted with as much enthusiasm as the singles. Murray’s searing guitar riffs interweave with the solid spinal column of Chris Cain’s bass lines, with the whole thing driven by the bold and beautiful drum beats provided by Michael Tapper. The set winds up with a moving rendition of the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’, and a flat out ‘Escape’. They leave the stage with promises that they will return – which indeed they will in the autumn. Judging by the waves of approval that their performance has provoked, they should have no problems in filling the Apollo.