As It Is @ O2 Ritz, Manchester

So this was an interesting night. It started slow and eventually picked up over the course of the concert. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a show at the Ritz but I will say that the sound was pretty good all night. There wasn’t any moment of the show where the sound dropped out or sounded off. It was pretty consistent all night and every band had a clear sound, whether that’s a good thing or not, well… I’ll get into that in a minute. The crowd were also pretty good throughout the night. With every band, the crowd went nuts for them and started screaming, jumping, dancing and having fun. Needless to say, it was an excellent atmosphere to be a part of.

Opening the night up were Courage My Love and I was less than impressed. Like I said the crowd went nuts for them and really enjoyed their set. However, I couldn’t get into this at all. There was nothing wrong per se, there was just nothing special about their performance. The overall sound was quite flat for me, nothing sprang out at me as interesting and the vocal performance was quite weak. It was almost like she was struggling to get the words to the songs out. So, needless to say, this was not a performance I enjoyed. Their music was this mish-mash of alt. rock and electro-pop and it sounded fine, I couldn’t say there were any flubs or that they were out of tune, it just didn’t grab my interest in the slightest. Then they covered “Electric Feel” by MGMT which did get to me a little as it’s one of my favourite songs and, to my knowledge, no band has ever got it right. Yeah, these guys didn’t do it justice either. As I said, they weren’t horrible they just didn’t entertain me. If they are your cup of tea then you’ll probably like them live but they did nothing for me.

Next on stage was the Welsh rockers, Holding Absence and the night continued to bore me. Again, there was nothing wrong with their performance. There was just nothing captivating about them. Sure, they were jumping around the stage and they had energy but their songs were just a droning boring sound. There was really nothing memorable about them. I actually don’t have much else to say about them, they were just your bog standard hardcore punk band with pop elements and there was nothing that really made them stand out for me. Again, the crowd was into their performance and singing along to their music so at least the atmosphere in the venue was still uplifting. I didn’t understand what people saw in them but as long as they were having fun, I suppose.

So far this gig was a bit of a bust but that was all about to change with the arrival of Trash Boat. Despite the name being a little odd, these guys fully delivered with a high-octane and commanding set that left me very entertained. Hot off the heels of their new record Crown Shyness they were full of passion and it really showed on stage. From their first song to their last all five of these guys let it rip and their music was compelling to the ear. The crowd made them look like absolute superstars as they screamed the words to every song so clear that I think the vocalist was taken a little bit off guard. In all honesty, they embraced the Manchester audience and made a spectacle out of their set. You can tell as well that they were just having a blast on stage as you couldn’t wipe the smiles off of their faces if you tried. Their sound was excellent, with sharp and punchy power chords and a bassline that just added this massive bottom to the guitar sound. The drum work was fantastic too, with clear and concise hits, you could just feel the impact of their sound. Overall, I was relatively impressed by Trash Boat. A short but sweet set and I hope I manage to catch them live again because that was a blast.

After a bit of time to set the stage up for them, As It Is came and blew the roof off the Ritz. My god, these guys were loud only matched once again by the crowd singing along. They opened the show in dramatic fashion and got right to work putting on an entertaining and heart-pounding set. They blasted their tunes and the sound was quality, ever member felt represented in the live mix and it made the band sound so impactful. The set was turned up a notch when they play their new single “The Great Depression”, which went down a storm with the Manchester faithful. After that, there was no stopping this rollercoaster ride of tunes, emotion and fun. Listening to them live you can tell why they have garnered the fanbase they have and it’s because they are just relentless in a live setting. Frontman, Patty Walters was a delight to watch as he is such the showman. Donned in his red suit and whipping his microphone all over the place, the guy just knows how to show off. Songs like “Austin”, “Hey Rachel” and “The Two Tongues (Screaming Salvation)” continued to keep the fans going deep into the night.

Finishing the show on the hits “Dial Tones” and “The Wounded World” they brought the show to a conclusion. I really liked this set. There wasn’t a moment of wasted time or dead air, As It Is just kept up the pumped up set right through to the end. They are a band that keeps endeavouring to grow and improve. This latest album The Great Depression (and this subsequent tour) boasts their presence as performers and their ability to make great songs with meaning. I would not mind crossing paths with them again in the future.



Mick Birchall

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