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REVIEW: The Blackout, Manchester Academy 2, 08/04/2011 with The Swellers & Hyro Da Hero

The Blackout‘s new album, Hope, was released on Monday. The band are on a UK tour supporting the release, dates for which can be seen above. Red Rose Music Lancs was at their show at Manchester Academy 2.

First up is Hyro Da Hero. The Texan rapper was seen by some as an unconditional support act, but a brilliant backing band composed of former members of At The Drive-In, Blood Brothers and Idiot Pilot adds strength and credibility to this already hotly tipped act.

Live, the young MC’s songs are much more meaty and dynamic than on record. This is particularly clear when The Blackout’s screamer-in-chief Sean Smith takes to the stage for a raucous “Beam Me Up Scotty”, sparking one of the biggest cheers of the entire night.

Certainly, I haven’t seen the room shake this much for an opening act for a very long time, suggesting that this ‘next big thing’ is already just that.

Next on are The Swellers, back in the UK after their triumphant stint supporting Young Guns in late 2010. Although the largely drunk teenage crowd seem to be doing their best to ruin this show for everyone, the room and band alike are energetic and powerful from the outset.

Stomps through opener “Do You Feel Better Yet?” and “Welcome Back Riders” earn a brilliant reception before playing new song “The Best I Ever Had”, which the band claim (quite rightly) is the best song they have ever written.

In between songs, the band keep onstage chat to a minimum, preferring to let their high-octane delivery of old favourite “Bottles” and closer “2009” do their talking and end The Swellers’ best show of the tour so far.

By contrast, The Blackout are born showmen. Sean Smith and Gavin Butler bound across the stage repeatedly thanking the assembled masses for coming out in between some microphone swinging that Adam Lazzara would be proud of.

I think it’s fair to say that Manchester likes this band. This show sold out quicker than any other date on the tour, including a ‘home’ show in Cardiff. That’ll explain the reception that greets the arrival of the six-piece as they stride onstage and launch into “Ambition Is Critical”.

The band roar through “Children Of The Night” a phenomenal “Prepare For A Wound” at the start of a set well balanced between old and new material.

The whole room laps up every word sung and screams back with interest, actually leading runs through “It’s High Tide Baby” and an anthemic “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things” that leave the band branding tonight as one of their best shows ever.

Reinforced by two wall-to-wall circle pits, “We’re Going To Hell… So Bring The Sunblock” and “I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot” sound heavier than ever and are definitely set highlights.

While I’ll be the first to confess that I think that the band’s new album is their weakest release to date, the first two singles to be taken from the album: “Never By Your Side” and “Higher And Higher” sound phenomenal in a live setting. Opener Hyro Da Hero takes to the stage for the latter song and has a woefully brilliant attempt at a stage dive, prompting yet more frenzied screams from the floor.

Set finale “Save Our Selves (The Warning)”, provides a suitably triumphant, anthemic end to the third and final superb set of the night end prove that – for tonight at least – The Blackout are the best in town.

Setlists

The Swellers

Do You Feel Better Yet?

Welcome Back Riders

Ups and Downsizing

Sleeper

The Best I Ever Had

Bottles

Fire Away

2009

The Blackout

Ambition Is Critical

Children Of The Night

The Fire

Murder In The Make-Believe Ballroom

Prepare For A Wound

It’s High Tide Baby

Said & Done

Hope (Scream It Out Loud)

Top Of The World

We’re Going To Hell… So Bring The Sunblock

Never By Your Side

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I’m A Riot? You’re A Fucking Riot!

ShutTheFuckUppercut

Higher And Higher

Save Our Selves (The Warning)

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