Once again, I find myself visiting one of Manchester’s main venues for the first time, The Ritz.
It looks somewhat like the Academy 1 just half the size.
We arrived just before the support group Toseland began, and we managed to secure ourselves a spot right up front.
Frontman James Toseland jogged onstage with a big grin on his face, this might be because he is a former 2 time Superbike World Champion-turned-musician or as if that is not enough, because he is married to the lovely Katie Melua, some people have it all!
They started their set and immediately you could grasp their groove, they were catchy bouncy rock tunes that you could play anywhere and people would start to tap their feet to it. In the crowd, people took a couple of songs to warm up to them, but by the 3rd song there were fists in the air and heads nodding.
I had never heard any of their songs before, but this one song, Crash Landing, had me singing along to the chorus despite never having heard it before! That goes to prove that less is more, as the lyrics were simple, it made the song instantly catchy.
In short, their performance was fun and the music catchy, and Mr Toseland’s onstage antics reminded my husband of Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) from the film Rock of Ages. This is a band I shall keep an eye on as I have a feeling we will be seeing more of them in the music scene in the near future.
Sadly, the stage lighting was atrocious and I barely managed to get a visible photo of any of them with my compact camera, despite being right at the front and taking hundreds of photos!
Up next, Reef!
On stage first was bassist Jack Bessant, looking like Father Christmas’ little brother due to his long and silver hair and beard which made him look much older than his 42 years, but once he started smiling and bouncing around the stage, you could see he was still as youthful as ever (yes, I consider 42 to be young still)
Lead singer, Gary Stringer, had a quick chat with the audience and reminded us that this was their 20th anniversary tour, even though they had a 7 year break in between ”typical Reef style, a very long Wednesday”
They started the gig off in a slow tempo for the first few songs, which was sadly compromised by the vocals and guitar being very low, despite them signalling at the sound engineer to turn them up on various occasions.
Eventually the sound engineer woke up and turned them up, and they kicked some power into the show by playing the classic Place Your Hands, to which the crowd danced and chorused and really got into the swing.
Gary had a cheeky grin on his face the whole time and kept purposely pushing his mic stand over so someone had to run on stage and pick it up and accidentally hit Jack’s fretboard on one occasion.
The whole band constantly interacted with the crowd thanking them for being there, and my husband got a thumbs up from guitarist Kenwyn House, a peace hand gesture and later a handshake from Garry Stinger and a wink from Jack Bessant.
Gary also jumped off the stage and came down to give some high-fives and fist-bumps to the crowd.
The crowd responded greatly when they played New Bird from their 1999 album Rides and their 1997 anthem Yer Old, to which everyone in the building bounced around with their hands in the air.
They then played a couple of mellow songs that they had composed for their drummer Dominic Greensmith’s wife who is making a film; and finished off the gig with Choose To Live, which was elongated by the band members’ impromptu instrumentals.
It was an all-round great night with a great vibe and great musicians, my only opinion would be that they should have ended the night with a bang rather than a slow-tempo song.