Live Review: Marsicans – Manchester


Words: Joe Cockburn 
Photos: Georgia Flynn

Snow had obliterated gigs across the country in early March, but buoyed by a week of seeing the absolutely epic Everything Everything twice, a much more intimate but equally as grand setting of Manchester’s Deaf Institute welcomed Marsicans on their (almost) sold-out UK tour – “damn you Glasgow,” said the band.

The Leeds four-piece embarked on a six date tour of the UK, wading the way through the snow in their famous ex-Post Office van “Pat”, and made it to the iconic Deaf Institute for the penultimate show – before a sold out finale at the 760 capacity Church in Leeds.

Local youngsters Kula Bay opened the show – thanks to a last minute call – and were excellently received by a welcoming crowd. The young foursome began the theme of the evening, with enjoyable, bouncy indie-pop delivered well by likeable front-man Oliver Thomas. Already picked up by BBC Introducing and playing regular support slots around Manchester’s indie scene, these guys are ones to keep an eye on.

The crowd really began to swell ahead of the arrival of main support – and Marsicans’ touring buddies – Vistas. Having already had intentions to go see one of the best young bands around, it came as a big shock when Vistas were announced as the support, a two-for-one offer which anyone would have been foolish to turn down.

The Scots certainly did not disappoint, living up to expectations and then some. The audience got Deaf Institute’s famous sprung dancefloor bouncing, making it increasingly hard not to go with it. Their most successful single Retrospect, one of two with over a million streams on Spotify, went down an absolute treat, with signs showing that Vistas could be a force to be reckoned with any time soon. They closed their set with forthcoming release Calm, which, whether live or recorded, is impossible not to sing along to. If you’ve not listened to these guys, you need to.

Vistas left the stage to rapturous applause, and anticipation began to build for the headliners. Their huge banner hung behind an impressive lighting set-up on Deaf Institute’s tiny, elevated stage. As they entered to a slow, old-school song dedicated to friends, it became clear what they would open with.

The music cut out, and Marsicans’ infectious harmonies and guitar brilliance took hold, immediately grasping the audience from the get-go. Bassist Rob was quick to welcome the crowd mid-way through the bouncy live version of 2017 single Friends, ahead of lead vocalist James’ emotional, almost acapella bridge, which precedes some trademark Marsicans heavy guitar, the crowd wrapped around the band’s fingers just minutes in.

Casting us back to the Absence EP of 2016, next up was Far Away, the band keeping the energy high and the crowd bouncing with memorable riffs and a simple sing-along chorus, before the band performed one of two new numbers. Titled Pop-Ups, the song sounded excellent, highlighting how far the group have come in terms of production since the early days, and it took nothing away from the excitement of the crowd.

Keeping interests high, the set moved back to the old days with the high-energy Arms of Another, which closed with an outstanding transition into Marsicans’ very own sing-along anthem, Swimming. The Deaf Institute floor was truly bouncing before the Leeds boys played the newcomer Little Things. A decent-sounding track, but it didn’t live up to the high expectations that the Leeds band have set themselves – any other band would get away with it.

Drummer Cale reignited the crowd with the heavy Gone In A Second, and fresh from smashing it out of the park in a session at BBC’s Maida Vale studios, lead singer James brought his emotional ode to his unborn niece with Wake Up Freya. A truly beautiful track, the stunning vocals and lyricism captivated the audience, before bursting to life with its stunning crescendo.

The end was in sight, and recently released favourites Too Good and Throw Ourselves In were just as well-received as expected, as was James’ statement at “not doing that bullshit going off and coming back on thing” ahead of long-time closer Absence.

Having been following Marsicans for 18 months since catching them by chance at Kendal Calling in 2016, this show marked a huge step up for the group, who earned funding from the PRS Music Foundation last year, before signing with LAB Records. The loveable Northerners have since been announced as playing the BBC Radio 1/NME stage at Reading & Leeds festival, among a whole host of summer performances. And with an 11-song setlist, with tunes new and old being left out, you suspect an album may not be far away as well.

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