The Walkmen
Wild Nothing
Manchester Ritz
Oct 30th 2012
live review

The Walkmen, Wild Nothing : Manchester Ritz : live review

This is Wild Nothing’s fourth visit to Manchester in a couple of years and their largest to date. The words dream pop spring immediately to mind when describing their music. Wild Nothing in the studio is Virginias Jack Tatum. Live he has a full band with him to produce the lush melodies he creates.

Their set tonight is well received and indeed, “Live In Dreams” gets 4 teenage girls jiving at the front. The set is half old stuff and half drawn from the new LP “Nocturne”. They sound a bit like a poppy Cure and some of the new songs sound like New Order, with bass player Jeff Haley emanating Peter Hook in sound. Indeed Tatum gives it away slightly when he says some of his favourite bands are from Manchester.

Oldie “Golden Haze” certainly goes down well, with a good proportion of the crowd recognising it, and a fair amount of people at the front dancing. On tonight’s showing Wild Nothing seem certain to build on their success so far and a certainly one to watch for next year.

a Wild Nothing communicating
a Wild Nothing communicating

I hadn’t heard much by The Walkmen before tonight’s gig, and didn’t know much about them, other than they’ve been going for 10 years or so and that their following is due to hard work by playing live, they’ve manage to pull over 1,000 tonight.

Almost immediately singer, Hamilton Leithausers voice wins me over. Both beautiful and strong he’s slightly reminiscent of Brandon Flowers on the more powerful bits, but with much more depth.

He holds the mic a little like a less manic James Murphy & commands the stage well, recounting a previous visit to Manchester many years ago, when after a drive from Glasgow they weren’t allowed to play, & that they are obviously unrecognizable to most people as he was offered 3 tickets to his own gig tonight by the touts!

They look great in the sunning monochrome white light, which is used throughout to great effect. The stage is empty save for the bands vintage amplifiers and vintage (and slightly tatty) organ (used on about 4 numbers). The sound is driven by the excellent twangy lead guitar sound of Paul Maroon who strolls backwards and forwards across the emptiness on his side of the stage.

The music is pretty unique in sound these days, but if pushed you would say it draws on influences such as The Velvet Underground and a whole host of Americana for its sound alongside a little bit of Richard Hawley, Smiths and even U2 on one number. The band is an absolute rarity these days, in not using any effects pedals on their instruments. Indeed it took me 4 numbers to work out why the sound was so unique!

They sound bleak (don’t let that put you off), but in a good way. Its often euphoric too, in the same way Arcade Fire are, especially on “A Little More Reason” & “Heave“, both of which are stunning and soon get The Ritz’s sprung dance floor moving.

Rarely performed “Red Moon” is the first song of a 3 song encore, played for a fan they met earlier who has it tattooed on his arm.

Its testament to a good live band that they’ve won me over wholeheartedly on just one gig and a few snippets of songs I heard beforehand. Their seventh studio album, “Heaven” is out now.

Walkmen setlist- obviously couldn't make their minds up!
Walkmen setlist- obviously couldn’t make their minds up!
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