Don Broco at Victoria Warehouse, Manchester - 01.02.19 / Louder Live
Heading out into a perishing February night to wait in line for a show is a demonstration of dedication like no other- yet the hordes of fans huddled into the winding queue outside Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, in spite of the plummeting temperatures, promised that the night ahead was going to be worth it.
Opening up the night’s proceedings were Georgian nu-metallers Issues, whose blend of grinding metalcore guitars and a dash of funky R&B melodies richoced around the cavernous, still filling room like rumbling thunder. Despite the slightly lacklustre response from the fringes of the crowd, the quartet blasted through the punishing ‘Life Of a Nine’, with its grumbling guitars and white-hot screams, interwoven with racing, undulating synth notes that add a sweet note of brightness to the melody. The smoother, more streamlined ‘Home Soon’ still boasted a core of immovable grit, however the poppier melody lines were brought to the fore, with the clean vocals and screams ebbing and flowing in and around each other like salt and pure water merging where the river meets the sea. The indisputable crowd favourite was closer ‘Mad at Myself’, with its inescapably bouncy chorus and lyrics that call out to everyone who has ever fallen in love with someone that they just can’t let go of- a song bourne from a feeling of entrapment that freed up the crowd’s inhibitions for the rest of the night to come!
Taking the reins over from Issues were the night’s main support, Wrexham pop punk four-piece, and guiding stars of the new wave of the UK pop punk scene, Neck Deep. If the crowd had been at all stagnant during the opener, the last dregs of those inhibitions disappeared instantly with the lively opening notes of ‘Motion Sickness’, an upbeat, buttery summer anthem that had the mosh pit whipped up into an instant frenzy! The inevitable inclusion of the band’s huge hit ‘Gold Steps’, from their lanmark 2015 album ‘Life’s Not Out to Get You’ came sooner than many expected, however the fist-pumping chorus and unabated chuggy bassline swept up any remaining stragglers, carrying them along in the relentless flow of the wild, rebellious abandon of the set! ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots’ always has an added gravitas when played to what the band dubbed ‘as close as they can get to a hometown crowd’, and the passion and vigour with which the crowd sang each and every word was testament that the audience shared that philosophy! The sobering ‘December’ was earmarked to be a lull in pace in the set, however rather than the usual soft acoustic notes accompanying frontman Ben Barlow’s heart-wrenching lyrics, the full band weighed in to keep the pace of the set going- a wise choice perhaps for a support set, yet one can’t help but feel that some of the usual significance of that moment fazed into the sweat-filled air in the process. However, it meant that by the time Neck Deep left the stage, the adrenaline could be felt pulsing in the room as the riled-up crowd eagerly awaited the arrival of the night’s headliners.
In testament to the organisation of the stage crew, the eagerly awaiting crowd did not have to cling on for long before the night’s main event kicked into gear. Emerging from the smoke as barely-visible silhouettes, they were greeted with a deafening wave of high-pitched screams- it could only be pop rock starlets Don Broco. Formed in Bedford almost exactly ten years earlier, the band have seen a meteoric rise to stardom over the past few years, releasing their latest album ‘Technology’ to critical acclaim. The impact the band have had was evident from the first bubbling notes of opener ‘Come Out to LA’, the sultry groove of the guitars animating the bodies of the crowd almost involuntarily- and from there, the dance party had begun, and would show no signs of slowing down throughout the remainder of the night! All the hits were all present and correct: the band’s huge single ‘Pretty’ crashed into the room like a tidal wave, with its distorted opening vocals and low, grinding bassline, while their breakthrough single from 2015’s ‘Automatic’, ‘Money Power Fame’ boasted its characteristic danceable verses with swoop into the fully rounded, pummelling pop rock chorus.
Don Broco’s setlist pulled from across their discography, though their latest album ‘Technology’ naturally featured heavily, being released almost exactly a year earlier to the day. The spaced-out synths of ‘The Blues’ hinted at the depth of feeling behind the song’s poignant lyrics, however it still never lost that classic Don Broco groove that compels you to sway your hips along with the rhythm. An unapologetically raucous dance tune came in the form of ‘Greatness’- dripping with a self-assuredness bordering on enticing arrogance. Each pop of the clinking cowbell conjured up images of the uncorking of champagne, while the lyrics painted a picture of the desperate dichotomy of craving recognition, come hell or high water- a lesson in both the pleasure and danger of indulging in decadence. The opening of ‘Stay Ignorant’ boasted a cool, bassy funk, overlain with reverberating vocals that explode into a pitching and falling, mid-tempo chorus, while the album’s title track was a treatise of social commentary regarding society’s dependance on social media (which was laced with a humorous irony as a forest of phone screens appeared to capture the song’s opening moments- proof that this message is one that still needs to be shouted from the rooftops!) There was no denying that ‘Technology’ is a hugely impressive body of work that will see Don Broco continue their fierce upward trajectory!
Of course, however, it was the band’s older tracks that the members of their cult audience were really desperate to hear, and the band delivered in spades! ‘Automatic’, which gave its name to the band’s sophomore album, brought airy gang vocals and an effervescent, fizzing melody, while the acoustic opening to ‘Further’ brought something different again- a slowly building crescendo that signalled the beginning of the night’s final stretch. Taking it even further back to the band’s debut, the inclusion of ‘Priorities’ illustrated how far this band have come, and just how much the inclusion of some popping synths and funky rhythms can lift their solid pop rock foundations to new, thrilling heights. However, sometimes a trip down memory lane can bring out the highlight of the night- and just when many thought all hope was lost, the encore finally brought with it fan favourite ‘Thug Workout’, which brought with it a frenzy that many metal bands would be proud to see in their mosh pits!
The final song of the night came as no surprise to anybody- it has become something of a Don Broco trademark, and so from the moment that the ‘final song’ announcement came, people all across the crowd were removing their shirts, in preparation for what could only be ‘T-Shirt Song’. The forest of swirling t-shirts was mesmerising, as the band thundered through the final pulsing notes, the last dregs of energy fading from the exhausted crowd as the lights came up, glistening through the haze of sweat on the air. It takes a special kind of band to get a crowd so swept up in their show that they are willing to set off into negative temperatures with their shirts still slung over their arms, but if any band can do it, it will definitely be Don Broco!
'Technology' is out now via Sharptone Records.
Check out the video for 'Greatness' below:
Don Broco still have several dates left of their current UK tour, which can be found below:
Connect with Don Broco on Twitter: @donbroco
Connect with Don Broco via their website: https://www.donbroco.com
Connect with Neck Deep on Twitter: @NeckDeepUK
Connect with Issues on Twitter: @issues