Manchester O2 Ritz – November 18th, 2016
For any band to sell out a venue like the Ritz is an achievement, for an unsigned band to do it is a marvel. After several years of slogging around the lower echelons of the gig circuit, its beginning to look like the time has come for The Slow Readers Club to begin to reap the rewards. They couldn’t have asked for a better homecoming.
Over a year since the release of their last album Cavalcade, they have played up and down the country, and built up more of a following thanks to a support slot with James. Not only did this tour pay dividends with exposure, but it gave the band much needed experience on bigger stages and with larger audiences. Some may have considered it audacious for an unsigned band to book the 2000 capacity Ritz, but the gamble paid off and the venue had sold out quite some time before the date.
Ably supported by fellow locals Larkins and Puppet Rebellion, the band of the moment hit the stage to a rapturous reception, something that appears to take aback the four members a little. Keeping their composure but hardly able to stifle their smiles, they stomp their way through a seventy-five minute set that covers most of their two albums as well as two new tracks.
The anticipation for the band is almost at fever pitch, but Aaron, Kurtis, James, and David launch into their first song, the title track of their second album Cavalcade, with only a cursory hello. They relish the applause but keep the music going, not being content to bask in the glory of their achievement just yet. Its only moments into the song that the famous Ritz sprung floor is put through its paces – and it hardly lets up for the rest of the night.
By the time the band get to the double header of One Chance and One More Minute – both ported over from their previous incarnation Omerta – they are fully hitting their stride, every voice in the crowd is with them and the band clearly love it.
When the chorus of I Saw a Ghost kicks in, a shower of balloons rain down from the balcony in a celebratory nod to the fact that The Slow Readers Club could one day be playing arena shows on their own merit and possibly prepared to embrace the theatrics needed to captivate that size audience. Its a gesture that raises a smile for those who are used to these kinds of antics and certainly went down well with the crowd, who spent the majority of the song both singing and batting the inflatables between each other.
Bassist Jim Ryan steps up to the mic after the band take their final bows and makes a short but impassioned speech thanking everyone who made the show a success and reiterating that as each member of the group has a normal day job, it means so much more than people have chosen to spend their money on them and that every penny goes back into the band. Thanks to promoters such as Scruff of the Neck (who also arranged and provided a multi-camera live stream on Facebook for fans that couldnt get tickets), bands such as The Slow Readers Club have the chance to develop their craft and play to bigger audiences, while allowing them the artistic integrity to blossom at a natural pace, something TSRC is doing very nicely.
To paraphrase Julius Caesar, they came, they played, they conquered. Setlist: Cavalcade/Fool For Your Philosophy/Sirens/Start Again/Lunatic/Days Like this Will Break Your Heart/Dont Mind/One Chance/One More Minute/Here In The Hollow/Feet On Fire/Plant The Seed/Block Out The Sun/Forever in Your Debt/Through The Shadows/I Saw A Ghost/Know The Day Will Come.