Review: Lightning Seeds @ Manchester Albert Hall

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19.11.22 – The Lightning Seeds, Albert Hall, Manchester

Tonight felt like a hedonistic celebration of North West excellence. The intimacy and vulnerable charm of Badly Drawn Boy, the songwriting mastery of The Lightning Seeds both encased in the stunning baroque surroundings of Manchester’s Albert Hall.

Anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing Damon Gough (Badly Drawn Boy) live can’t help but feel endeared by his unassuming and personable nature. His sets are often littered with sharp humour, anecdotes, and simply brilliant songwriting; all delivered with unimaginable self-deprecation. Tonight, as always he showcased tracks from right across his discography, book-ended beautifully by “The Shining” and “Silent Sigh”. A solo, mainly acoustic based set provides some challenges at a lively Manchester show on a Saturday night, and a disgruntled Gough didn’t hesitate to complain about the crowd’s mutter throughout quieter moments of the set. Caveating this amusingly by proclaiming it was his hometown and he’ll say what he wants (paraphrasing courteously).

He sometimes stumbles and falters, which is a unique, special part of his performance, it makes it feel real. However, when he gathers himself and hits his flow, he shows that his musical execution and vocals can somewhat match his generational song-writing talent.

Credit: Brad Sewell (Northern Chorus)

Fresh off the back of the warmly received new Studio Album “See You In The Stars”, The Lightning Seeds entered the stage with the vigour of an excitable band playing their 1st headline tour, not their 31st (or something like that). The crowd by this point was literally packed to the Albert Hall rafters and were absolutely captivated before a note was even played. We’ve been lucky to see many bands hailing from this generation and rough positioning within the musical landscape, but the way the crowd were so transfixed on the band felt so different to anyone else.

They opened the set with the fantastic lead single from the latest album, “Sunshine”, followed by Dizzy Heights’ fan favourite “Ready or Not” and continued to interlink their trademark melodic treasures and their fresh new tracks. Before breaking into classic “Change”, Iain Broudie passed many a superlative at the venue’s beautiful surroundings.

The set was punctuated with some of their most famous hits, such as “Lucky”, “Sugar Coated Iceberg” and “Pure” which naturally garnered mass jubilation from the crowd, but equally as captivating was the performance of new songs, particularly “Emily Smiles” and “Great To Be Alive”. Maybe, invigorated by the reception of their first top 20 album in over 25 years and a notable inclusion in Mojo’s Top 50 Albums of 2022, the whole band’s performance was exuberant and polished. May it be said, Iain Broudie does not sound like someone who has been doing this since the late 80’s, his vocal performance sounded clean and fresh, contrary to some contemporaries. 

Credit: Brad Sewell (Northern Chorus)

The main set then finished with a gleeful performance of “The Life of Riley”, before we were treated to a crowd singalong cover of The Ronettes “Be My Baby” and Jollification hit “Marvellous”. 

What followed is quite remarkable. I’m not sure I’ve known a song take on a life of it’s own quite like “Three Lions”. It’s become a hymn of British societal culture, pessimism and optimism in equal measure. Despite the echoes of lager fuelled “It’s Coming Home’s” bludgeoned into your neocortex, this song is actually melodic pop mastery, and is the essence of what The Lightning Seeds are. Many songs of such fame and widespread commercial imprint are often scoffed by hardcore fans. But tonight from the balcony, I could see the palm of every hand in the Albert Hall. 

Words: Brad Sewell

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