For Matt West, Neck Deep guitarist, Manchester Academy has always been a venue he has dreamed of playing. After seeing bands such as Fall Out Boy and Alkaline trio grace that very stage, never did he contemplate the reality of it. But several years down the line and the day has come for the Welsh pop-punk boys to pound our ears with their idiosyncratic sound.
Despite the lacklustre performance by Creeper (featuring a not-so-exuberant circle pit), the atmosphere could not be dampened and the unruly crowd continued to rollick to their own chanting. As State Champs entered the stage to the introductory of the new album ‘Around the world and back’ the audience became more vigorous and the crowd surfing commenced. They continued singing songs from both their recent and early discography while cups of lager were hurled into the air as were the negligent audience. The band performed eleven songs to which the mass never came up for air, reciting every word while cavorting and swaying to the beat.
And this continued through the long awaited entrance of Neck Deep performing Citizens of Earth from their recent album ‘Life’s not out to get you’. It was an artistic fusion of thunderous and subdued numbers to which the crowd became unhinged at all of them. The moment the crowd really lost it was due to the introduction of Laura Whiteside midway through the captivating performance of ‘A part of me’. Frontman Ben Barlow and Laura Whiteside executed the duet with perfection and left the crowd weak at the knees. As the biggest sold out headline show they had performed to date, I was admittedly skeptical. Would the gig feel intimate? Would it sound rehearsed and produced? Undeterred by the size of the venue, the gig bind the fans to their much-loved band and fabricated memories that would last an eternity.
And subsequently, the much awaited moment was upon us. Shirts were wrenched from clammy bodies and intoxicated fans were hauled over the barrier in a defeatist attempt for recognition. The first note of ‘Can’t kick up the roots’ was played and the whole room vibrated in jubilation. The simultaneous bouncing off the crowd caused beams to spread across the faces of the band and as stated on the band’s Instagram ‘you even made Matt West cry’.
It is a pleasure to be only a fragment of this band’s extensive patronage and I am hopeful that their biggest headline tour to date will be vanquished next year by a tour that is bigger and better than ever before.