Sleeping With Sirens: Manchester HMV Ritz – live review

Sleeping with Sirens
Ritz, Manchester
23 May 2013

Post-hardcore band Sleeping With Sirens got a sold out Ritz in Manchester moshing and singing along – we give you the low down and an early heads up that if you missed this one they’re back in the autumn for more. 

Sleeping With Sirens are a difficult band to pin down to one specific genre. One minute, they’re screaming and thrashing about like nobody’s business with their angst-ridden ‘With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear’ type songs, but then they’re doing an entire EP of melodic and beautiful, if ever so slightly soppy, covers of their own songs.

It might be down to singer Kellin Quinn’s impressive vocal range which, when put to full use, makes the band able to do such a range of music (my mum, my plus one for the evening,heard one of their songs and she asked me if it was Paramore!). But whatever it is, people like it enough that they managed to sell out tonight’s show at the Ritz several months ago.

After a warm welcome by friendly New England-based openers Our Last Night came The Word Alive (originally fronted by Craig Mabbit of Escape The Fate, although he’s since been replaced with Tyler Smith of In Fear And Faith) with their intense and aggressive brand of metalcore, an interesting choice of support for a band that once said they’re ‘not heavy’.

They were undoubtedly enthusiastic and got the crowd going, but seemed to be a little bit uncomfortable onstage despite their raucous reception and how easily they whipped up the crowd. Because of this, they tended to resort to quite choreographed-looking dance moves at various points in the songs; it was distracting when trying to focus on what was, overall, actually some pretty good and interesting music performed by some talented artists. Thankfully ‘the moves’ faded somewhat throughout the set as they got more into it, to give way to some actual rocking out.

The pretty boys of post-hardcore, getting in straight away with musings on why British girls are so much prettier than American girls, and how the boys in the crowd were on the losing side against Kellin and Co’s’ ‘sexy foreign accents’, Sleeping With Sirens eventually emerged, confident and raring to go.

They launched into a powerful performance of These Things I’ve Done, slightly marred by the microphone not working properly for part of it. It pointed out quite clearly that they’re not necessarily as soft as they might look, and they just kept growing from there, with the vengeful SWS classic A Trophy Father’s Trophy Son being dedicated to “everyone whose mother or father weren’t there for them . . . who’ve had to raise their brothers and sisters because their parents didn’t care,” preceded by Kellin’s dark references to his own father, the inspiration for the song.

Sticking to fan favourites that wouldn’t fail to get even the newest of fans going, and throwing their absolute best into it – and their best is a hell of a lot more than a lot of bands out there – SWS blazed through With Ears To See . . ., If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn and others, interspersed by Kellin’s brief disappearance into the crowd “for a nervous pee” (I’m not sure anyone really understood what he was going on about).

There was an abrupt break from the heavier stuff mid-set for a more chilled out section, with just Kellin and guitarist Jesse Lawson performing the gloomy Don’t Fall Asleep At The Hel, and the more pepped-up Don’t You Forget About Me from their 2012 If You Were A Movie, This Would Be Your Soundtrack.

It was a welcome break from the thrashing about involved in the other songs, but perhaps wrongly timed as the crowd had just getting into their stride and, though they still had their hearts fully in it, seemed to be lagging a little at the sudden return to fast and crazy. Everyone soldiered on though, spurred on by the excellent performance, and Kellin instigating the crowd-surfing by reminding the crowd that it would be an excellent end to the evening to have shaken his hand.

Either Sleeping With Sirens really know how to work a crowd, or Manchester is full of very excitable people, but they had the crowd dancing and singing back the lyrics so loud that, by the time they finished with the rebellious Do It Now, Remember It Later, my voice was so hoarse that it has been involuntarily crackling between the deep lows and piercing highs of Quinn’s singing all night, although in a much less appealing way.

I and many others were so exhausted that I was feeling actually dizzy by the end, and there’s a bruise forming on my hip from accidentally ending up too close to the mosh pit that seemed to disappear and reform every few seconds in a different part of the crowd – crazily enough, the parts nearer to where Kellin was standing.

They’re an excellent band when recorded, just as good and even more energetic live, and they know how to write an awesome song.

Luckily for you, they’re coming back to Manchester this October after releasing their new album, Feel, this June. I’d grab yourself a ticket while you still can, because even my mum said she enjoyed it!

Sleeping With Sirens; pretty-boy post-hardcore fun for all the family.

All words by Isobel Brierley.

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