Live: The Living End at Manchester Club Academy 21/04/09

Blistering guitar, infectious drums and slammin’ double-bass were order of the day in Manchester as Aussie trio The Living End stormed the Club Academy.

As competent support act Tellison left the stage the crowd was wrought with anticipation, it has been two years since the boys last played in Manchester, and tensions were beginning to run very high.

With an explosion of sound, the band leapt into fast-paced opener Raise The Alarm from new album White Noise. The crowd embraced the new material as if it had been in their minds for years, ‘woah-ing’ at every opportunity.

Following up a strong with a set filled with classics like Prisoner of Society, Roll On and We Want More. Anthemic new tunes such as How Do We Know were accepted by the audience after only a moments hesitation, uniting the groups wide age range of fans in one voice.

With such energy on stage you might expect the musical precision to suffer, but if anything it was enhanced, with lead man Chris Cheney’s fingers flying up and down the fretboard of his eletcro-acoustic axe, which is largely responsible for the band’s distinct rock n roll twang.

Beat master Andy Strachan relentlessly pounded the drums with an impressive mix of perfectly crafted rock beats, stopping only for a moment when he got a little over-excited and cracked a cymbal.

The third side of this rock triangle belongs to Scott Owen and his famous double-bass. Immediately giving Owen a massive presence on stage, the bass is over a metre and a half from scroll to spike and almost a metre wide, its difference in sound from a standard electric bass is noticeable, as well as the custom glow-in-the-dark paint job leading to the looming presence of a glowing skull when the lights go down.

Owen’s impressive party piece sees him hoist the great instrument up in the air and proceed to play behind his head in homage to the great Jimi Hendrix.

Cheney, not to be out-done, soon teamed up with Owen to climb up the side of the bass for a dramatic finale, before using a nearby beer bottle as a real bottleneck to unleash an astounding slide solo as beer sprayed everywhere, only relenting to down the last few drops.

Musical improvisation was by no means an isolated incident, as the threesome broke into fierce upbeat arrangements numerous times during the evening, as the crowd looked on with awe and wonder.

Despite the recent turmoil in their homeland from bush fires, the band were determined to show England that it had only strengthened their resolve on stage, and kept excitement levels raised until the very last. A truly mesmerising show.

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