Barenaked Ladies: Manchester Academy – live review

Barenaked Ladies

Manchester Academy

25th November 2013

9/10

Celebrating 25 years as a band, Barenaked Ladies are touring in support of their new album Grinning Streak. Dom Walsh caught their Manchester show for us.

Opening proceedings in Manchester was friend of Barenaked Ladies, Boothby Graffoe. His brand of witty, comedic songs went down a treat on a bitterly cold night. Backed ably by ¾ of Barenaked Ladies, Graffoe warmed up the crowd perfectly for the main event of the evening.

It had been some twelve years since I’d last seen Barenaked Ladies, at Manchester Apollo in 2001. Since then their stock has fallen, and they’ve lost Steven Page – founder member and lead vocalist.

Continuing as a four piece, they nevertheless tore through an all encompassing set with the new output matching the quality of the old hits, which tonight sounded superb.

Opening with Limits from Grinning Streak, the band sauntered onstage and immediately looked like they were having fun. The track is a catchy affair that displayed their knack for crafting songs that get stuck in the head. The new song is met warmly, and was followed by Never Is Enough from their worldwide smash album, Stunt. Another early set highlight from the same album was Light Up My Room. Like a lot of Barenaked Ladies’ songs, there are sentimental undertones that showcase their ability with a good ballad.

Despite the band finding its feet early doors, the handful of tracks from Grinning Streak are met with rapturous applause. These songs were well spliced with material from the back catalogue, helping the pace of the show, together with their trademark impromptu jams and improvised raps.

Of the new songs, Gonna Walk has a catchy melody – the Manchester crowd more than willing to participate in its call and response chorus, which may have been due in part to Ed Robertson accusing anyone not singing of being racist! (and later of being Welsh!).  Needless to say, the band didn’t need threats to get people singing along.

Boothby Graffoe returned to the stage for an emphatic version of early hit, Be My Yoko Ono. Following this, the band launched into a more acoustic, folky set  – busking almost, and claiming that banjos were around before Mumford had sons! As well as the songs sounding fantastic, the harmonies they produced were completely flawless, a joy to hear.

The band exited this segment with another classic in the form of Brian Wilson. The response from the crowd was glorious, nearly every word sung in perfect time. Another excellent newbie (Did I Say That Out Loud?) was aired before The Big Bang Theory theme tune, and the massive hit, One Week. The main set was then closed out with one of the most perfect pop songs ever, If I Had $1,000,000, and the obligatory Barenaked Rap with synchronized dance moves and quirky covers. A euphoric encore of Alcohol and a cover of Whole Lotta Love ensured that Barenaked Ladies leave the crowd in no doubt that the band had no problem in delivering a night of light hearted, witty, pop rock.

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All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom at his author’s archive here. Dom also tweets as @bwfcdom83.

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