Sub-zero temperatures are the norm at the moment, so after having to cancel a gig last-minute the previous night due to travel issues, I redoubled my effort to make it for The Dandy Warhols, touring for their 25th anniversary. A single support band, in the form of French Psych-Pop outfit Juniore were around to warm up the crowd, so I braved the cold and head on across to Manchester’s Albert Hall for the evening’s entertainment. It’s also my first time at the venue, and being a Grade 2 listed building means that accessibility help is hard for them, but they bend over backwards to help however they can (even when I only asked for help on arrival), which they deserve a lot of praise for, while the setting itself is stunning, providing a great backdrop for the evening’s music.
I admit to being previously unaware of Juniore prior to them coming on stage and was intrigued to see a sad-looking metal-masked guitarist alongside a female drummer and Melotron playing frontwoman – pleasantly so, given my personal penchant for female vocals. They strike as something Jack White might well do; almost a cross between The Dead Weather and The White Stripes in terms of their sound, albeit sung in French – though I have a slight advantage here as I’m still fairly conversant in French and can understand enough of the lyrics to make sense of them.
They get a good reception from the crowd with people dancing and clapping loudly at the end of songs and it’s quite easy to understand why. When you have soft melodies, moving between almost bubblegum Pop and psychedelic rock, with variable offbeat drumming, lending an almost Prog-like sound to proceedings, they are reminsicent of Manchester-based act The Blackheart Orchestra at times. The language barrier seems like no issue to the audience, who show due appreciation at the end too, with good applause to them for their set. Worth keeping an eye on for future dates.
I will admit to a feeling of trepidation about seeing Dandy Warhols prior to the gig. They’re a band I found quite early in their career when I was in my teens, one I grew up with but had seen fairly recent footage of not sounding so good, so as they come to the stage, I’m a touch more tense that I usually am. Luckily, my fears were soon proven to be ill-founded, as they come to the stage and launch straight into the start of the set. The crowd greets this with a loud cheer, singing along, clapping and being in clearly boisterous mood, even though we wait til the fourth track for one of the Dandy’s best-known tracks in ‘Get Off’ – indeed, one of the songs I had been most hoping for on the night.
A couple of tracks later and we are firmly into the bigger songs, as we get ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth’ and ‘We Used To Be Friends’ in succession – the other two that I had been most wanting to see. The crowd sing loudly along to both of these, carrying on in that happy place that the Dandy’s seem to inspire in people, despite the lyrical emphasis on certain subjects sitting at a juxtaposition to this.
The set continues with some more Indie Rock numbers such as ‘Small Town Girls’ and ‘Plan A’ into some of their more psychedelic numbers, with tracks such as ‘You Were The Last High’ and ‘I Love You’ right after. We are surprisingly barely halfway through the set at this point, despite the glut of sing-alongs we have already had with the band, with it being highly enjoyable throughout, the band showing a tightness not often found in similar bands, as alluded to above. A guest trumpet spot performed, it’s time for the big single as the first chords of ‘Bohemian Like You’ rings out, instantly recognisable and the audience goes hell for leather for it, loud enough to compete with the band themselves.
We still aren’t quite finished yet though, as we have both ‘Every Day Should Be A Holiday’ and ‘Boys Better’ to finish as an encore of sorts, given the band don’t play the usual game of a false finish before coming back to the stage. Zia gives us a short keys solo to fade out, as the rest of the band leave the stage, before bidding farewell herself and mentioning an After Party. As a set, it worked for both album track and big singles enthusiasts performed to a high standard and well worth braving the cold for, both from nostalgia and present-day point of view.
WORDS AND PHOTOS BY DJ ASTROCREEP