Slow Readers Club
Manchester Cathedral, Manchester, 4/5/2018
published: 29 /
Dixie Ernill watches the Slow Readers Club’s home town gig at the Manchester Cathedral hampered by poor sound quality.
It’s been a hard slog for the band to arrive at this point. Having formed from the ashes of Omerta at the turn of the decade they have slowly gathered a loyal following that escalated on the back of some high profile support slots with Manchester musical royalty, James, in 2016.
With a third album, 'Build a Tower', released on the same day as the gig, it had the potential to be a triumphant homecoming, particularly as the weather was decent and it had been sold out for weeks.
As beautifully ornate as it is, Manchester Cathedral is, however, not an ideal venue for live music. The central pillars make viewing difficult for the many that are not crammed into the middle section and they also, in conjunction with the vastness of the space, distort the sound somewhat. This is a real shame as the band has a solid back catalogue of songs from their first two albums, and whilst the new album appears to be more of a grower the tracks played lose much of their impact due to the poor sound quality.
Despite the above there is a real energy about the band’s performance which is reciprocated by an expectant audience. The band certainly seem to have cultivated a sizeable following among the 40 plus age group, many of whom will probably note the similarities between the Slow Readers Club and the alternative bands of their 80’s youth such as Depeche Mode, the Cure and Joy Division. Whilst there are clear links to the past, which is pretty true of nearly every band, the Slow Readers Club are still forward thinking and in frontman Aaron Starkie they have a serious asset. He has the ability to switch effortlessly from an Ian Curtis like baritone to a Jimmy Somerville falsetto, which helps to keep the songs fresh.
From the new album, it’s the previously released singles 'Lunatic' (which they open the set with) and 'You Opened Up My Heart' (which is the highlight of a three song encore and surely a summer anthem in waiting) that shine brightest, but 'Distant Memory' is also something rather good too.
Of the older songs, 'Sirens' still packs a punch, but the usually sublime 'Plant the Seed' is somewhat lost in the acoustics. 'Block Out the Sun' still tugs at the heartstrings and set closer 'I Saw a Ghost' remains their finest moment.
The Slow Readers Club are definitely and defiantly a band who have put in the graft and have not lost sight of the fans that have helped them achieve their success along the way. For that and for a clutch of mighty fine songs we should applaud them. Hopefully next time they won’t be hampered by the venue.