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Monday, April 20, 2009

Live Review: Manchester Orchestra with the City Lives

The Oklahoma Memorial Union was rocked by the likes of Atlanta based Manchester Orchestra and hometown heroes The City Lives. It’s safe to say this was the first time I left the Union with my ears ringing.

Moved indoors to the Will Rogers Room due to inclement weather, the bands pulverized the standing room only crowd with blistering songs and their energized delivery.

Thoughts of SAT analogies kept popping into my head throughout the night, my mind finally settling on this revelation: Mustaches are to beards, as The City Lives is to Manchester Orchestra. Not only do the lead singers of both these bands exhibit said facial hair, I also think this sums up the bands perfectly: The City Lives is still growing, while Manchester Orchestra has fully matured. The progression is exciting, and made for a very interesting evening.

The City Lives loosened up the crowd with their well-honed power pop. Busting out tunes from their album “American Kids” and several new demos, TCL has shown much progress since I caught them last, and I’m looking forward to hearing more from them in the future. Their melodic rock tunes blend equal parts Kings of Leon with All American Rejects and the band’s set was a very pleasant surprise.

Then Manchester Orchestra stormed the stage, blasting the crowd away with their foot stomping riffs and Andy Hull’s searing, emotive vocals. I can’t help but think that including “orchestra” in their name was more than appropriate; their sound is just as big and hits you like a wall. Early in the set, Manchester ripped through a blazing triad of “Now That You’re Home,” “Raised By Wolves,” and capped it off with the stellar “Golden Ticket” that had the crowd singing louder than Hull.

Manchester Orchestra’s music translates perfectly live. The band dices through songs both slow and fast, hard and soft. The result is an exciting, unpredictable show that barrages you in some moments, and lets you recover and dwell in the beauty in others. Every Manchester fan is hooked by the band’s passion and conviction, and bandleader Andy Hull makes sure that this passion translates into a gripping live show.

A good chunk of their set was devoted to introducing the crowd to new songs off their upcoming release “Mean Everything to Nothing;” the highlights of which came in the form of “I’ve Got Friends” and “Shake It Out” that left the crowd to marvel at how far the band has come, and anxious to see where else they will go.

Manchester closed the night with “The Party’s Over,” Hull somberly singing, “So turn out the lights/the party’s over/they say all good things must come to an end.”

I wish they didn’t have to.

You can pick up Manchester Orchestra’s new release, “Mean Everything to Nothing,” Tuesday.

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