Gig Review: Editors, Manchester Academy 1, September 28, 2005

So, about 10 months ago we saw the Editors at the Night & Day with at most 28 other people. At the time I thought they showed some real possibility and Ledge was only vaguely interested. So here we were, not a year later, filing into the Manchester Academy 1, the same venue where we’d seen such big-name acts as Doves, PJ Harvey, Suede, Interpol and Franz Ferdinand in recent years, only one step away from the Apollo. That is an incredible rise in such a short time, to be sure.

Before we could get on with the good stuff, we had to endure the requisite two opening acts. I’d dragged Ledge down early just to be certain that We Are Scientists were as lame as I thought they might be, and we ended up having to endure part of a set by The Cinematics. Basically, The Cinematics heard the Editors and though “I bet we can do that too” only to end up producing a bunch of songs that sound kind of like the headliner, only not as good, and in only one tempo. Half a set was enough, thank you very much. They can go away now. Forever. Really.

And then came We Are Scientists. Now this lot are being touted about the music press as the next best thing since The Strokes to come out of New York City. I think some music journalists must have gone deaf, dumb and blind. And by dumb I don’t mean mute. Ok, they have a couple of catchy tunes. But every single one of their catchy tunes sounds pretty much like either some second-rate Britpop act (think Menswe@r, think These Animal Men…) or one of their contemporaries (think Hot Hot Heat, The Killers, Kaiser Chiefs, Editors…). What I’m saying here is these guys wouldn’t know an original idea if it chopped their heads off. Plus they had really bad facial hair. And one of them had an afro. And he looked like the guy out of the 118 adverts. And they kept cracking really poor jokes. I didn’t like them and I liked the squealing teenage girls even less. I even had a little sigh of relief when they left. And I have yet to stop worrying that we’re about to be smack in the middle of a Britpop revival led by Americans who were probably about 10 years old when Suede released “The Drowners” and who think “Song 2” is what Blur have always sounded like.

Rant against We Are Scientists and their over-rated-ness finished it was time for the Editors. Singer Tom said that this was their biggest gig to date (I assume he means besides festivals, as the NME tent was packed at their Leeds Festival performance) and they certainly weren’t going to let the crowd down. They’ve only got one album and a handful of singles, so the set was pretty much what we’d come to expect. The highlights were “Camera” as always, “Munich,” “All Sparks ” and the brilliant “Fingers in the Factories.” One thing about Editors, as opposed to a lot of their contemporaries, and one of the things that marks them as a notch above a lot of the emerging guitar bands, is their ability to write and perform both stomping, noisy, angry songs like “Bullets” as well as to embrace the quiet tenderness of their ballads. It reveals a depth to their songwriting that they will hopefully be given time to explore.

Ledge commented on the way home that we seem to be attending a growing number of gigs by young British guitar bands, all with one album who have gone from touring tiny toilet venues to playing in front of massive crowds in just a few months. In the past couple of years it’s happened with Franz Ferdinand (first spotted opening for Interpol), Bloc Party (first spotted at Leeds Festival and then in the Night & Day), Kaiser Chiefs (Night & Day last December to the Apollo around now, not that we’ve seen them), The Futureheads, Libertines (opening for Morrissey and then headlining Brixton themselves shortly afterwards), ad infinitum. It used to be that bands would get a few albums to develop as songwriters and to build a following. Now if a band’s first single fails to create a buzz and the second single fails to chart it’s seen as a failure. What this means is a first album is often rushed, the band are subjected to a horrendous schedule of touring and the second album, rather than being created slowly, is rushed out and isn’t good. Ledge’s complaint is that with new bands these days, you get them touring the same songs over and over and over with no development for a year or 18 months at a time, rather than allowing them to get back into the studio to write new songs after 3 singles and an album. He certainly has a point.

Editors have some very strong songs and have released one of my favourite albums of the year. I have enjoyed them live, but while the size of the venues has grown, the band themselves seem to have been learning to cope with their newfound fame rather than working on developing their craft. This left me feeling that this was just another in a long line of great gigs that didn’t leave a hugely lasting impression because you get the feeling the band are being forced to deliver the same thing night after night. This isn’t me saying that the Editors themselves were uninspired or uninspiring; rather I have a sneaking suspicion that the delivery is probably some sort of recitation by now. Same songs, every night for months. This is a shortcoming in the way labels treat bands, not in the bands themselves.

In any case, it was a great gig. I expect more brilliant things from this band, I only hope the music industry gives them the time and the patience they need to become a truly amazing band.

9 Responses to “Gig Review: Editors, Manchester Academy 1, September 28, 2005”

  • Tom Kerswill Says:

    Heheh, night and day is really a fantastic place to discover new bands. I seem to be making a habbit of going there at every possible opportunity at the moment!

  • frank Says:

    Were you listening to the same bands as I was???? I was at two of the gigs on this tour and interviewed dozens of fans who had come to see and hear their particular favorite – what came over very strong was that this gig was the best they had ever been to with three exceptional bands. I agreed with them -the nights were tremendous – with each band with something exceptional to offer a, rarity in todays music business. The band with the most to offer, the other two having five years on them, was the cinematics – but that is my opinion.

  • The Ledge Says:

    My guess is that you haven’t been to that many gigs. Which is ok, you’re probably quite young, much younger than us. Keep going and I guarantee that you’ll see many, many gigs far better than this one. Yeah, it was quite a good gig but pales in comparison to recent gigs by the likes of Eels, Pixies, Okkervil River, Laura Cantrell, Elbow etc.

  • Frank Miller Says:

    I agree with my namesake.The Editors, We are Scientists, The Cinematics gig I attended was one of the best Ive been to in the past 20 years – up there in my top ten – catching emerging bands is a hobby of mine and I also agree that The Cinematics were the better of the three bands and the one with the most potential. We are taking about emerging bands here not accomplished ones with a few albums and years of tours behind them. The only thing I agree with you in is the demise of the development contracts which few bands, if any, get nowadays.The labels seem to want a finished product before they will put their hands in their pockets, very shortsighted. Most of the big bands have taken at least two albums before they have broken through. Since that gig I have made a point of catching The Cinematics when ever I can and have yet to be disappointed, there has been tangable improvment every time. They are not ground breaking but they do have something special that I cant put my finger on. You can compare them to any number of well known bands but they put their stamp on it that takes it to a higher level. I only hope that their label has some patience because this band has a platignum album in them.

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