Academy 2, Manchester
June 20th, 2015
Long-missed pop-punk royalty The Movielife return to the UK for a trio of much-anticipated reunion shows. Louder Than War’s Dave Beech got nostalgic at the final night in Manchester.
Though it could be easy to dismiss The Movielife’s reunion tour as either pocket-lining or ego-stroking, a thought that unfortunately dogs any such tour irrespective of genre, the fact remains that it’s been ten years since the band graced a UK stage (post-Movielife projects don’t count, you pedants), and whether money was a deciding factor or not, there’s still 900 people here tonight who were more than willing to part with theirs in order to finally hear the songs which shaped their adolescence. Fortunately, not even three songs in and any such cynicisms are put to bed.
Before The Movielife however, Brightonians Gnarwolves take to the stage in the flurry of riotous gangchants and breakneck punk. Already staples on the UK punk circuit and finding footing further afield as well, last time I caught the trio was their co-headline tour with The Smith Street Band and though crowd is noticeably more subdued, a direct correlation to the Academy’s overzealous security, there’s no less energy, nor any less furore in a set which spans their five year career. Highlights come thick and fast including both History is Bunk and A Gram Is Better Than A Damn proving that Gnarwolves aren’t just one of the most consistent band’s on the current punk scene, they’re also brutally uncompromising in their delivery.
From legends-in-the-making to established legends in their own right, The Movielife appear to a deafening noise from the crowd and launch immediately in to Faces or Kneecaps, the first nostalgic gut-punch in an 18-song set that’s full of them. Having waited the best part of a decade to finally get the chance to see the band, I was a little sceptical of my ability to remain impartial. Such scepticism proves unwarranted though; time clearly hasn’t dampened the band’s spirit, nor talent. Songs that are the best part fifteen years old are played with such conviction you’d be forgiven for thinking the wounds that wrote them weren’t yet healed, and each fraught verse from front-man Vinnie Caruana tears another one open.
Though it’s obvious that with two albums and a handful of EPs behind them, they can’t play everyone’s favourite, they do give it a bloody good go. An equal mix of material from debut long-player This Time Next Year, and 2003’s 40 Hour Train Back to Penn, there’s a definite difference between the two; the latter borrowing heavily from the band’s more post-hardcore influences, whilst the former is unashamedly pop-punk. Both are welcomed rapturously by the crowd, who do their best to drown Caruana out on more than one occasion – both Kelly’s Song and Hey providing the evening’s loudest sing-a-longs.
Until the inevitable encore. A trio of songs which provoke the evening’s best crowd-response yet. Ending with Jamestown, arguably the band’s most-known track, we’re left blinking in to the stage lights, the sound of feedback and The Movielife’s thanks ringing in our ears. Show’s such as these are bittersweet, and it’s the third of its like I’ve been to this year, (the other two being Mineral and American Football). They don’t get easier knowing such seminal bands aren’t likely to tour again in a hurry. That said, they offer those of us who missed them first time round a chance to finally see them, and if the bands who keep getting back together as important and as sincere about it as The Movielife have been tonight, then I’ll keep going to see them. Now all we need is that new album…
Dave Beech is a music writer based out of Manchester. He writes and edits for a number of different websites and links to his work can be found over at his blog, Life’s A Beech, as well as his Louder Than War Author Archive. He also tweets as @Dave__Beech.