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Manchester Orchestra Concert Review

Manchester+Orchestra.

Manchester Orchestra.

It’s been pretty incredible to watch Manchester Orchestra evolve since the first time I saw the Georgia-grown rockers perform back in 2007. Ten years and five LPs later, Manchester Orchestra has become one of rock’s preeminent bands to experience live. And two weeks ago, I got to see the band live for the fourteenth time in ten years—and it was just as inspired and earth shattering as the first time.
Part of my excitement while seeing the band this time around was because Manchester Orchestra released its fifth proper full-length album, “A Black Mile to the Surface,” in August. This album immediately shot up my top albums of the year list. After what felt like a phoned in fourth album “Cope,” and its companion acoustic redux release “Hope,” the band finally felt like a cohesive unit once again.
On “A Black Mile,” Manchester Orchestra harkens to its “Simple Math” days with beautiful orchestral arrangements coupled with fierce, driving energy and aggression. The balance that was missing on “Cope” was found in spades on the new album. Being able to see over half of the album performed live was a true blessing.
The night started with the ringleaders of the emo revival, Foxing, getting the crowd warmed up with plenty of feels. Splicing in the hits from its debut album “The Albatross” and its stunning follow-up album “Dealer,” Foxing gave the fans an experience they will likely never forget.
This was my fourth time seeing Foxing live, and each time, I can promise you, I have teared up at some point in the set—I’ve often told friends that if I could make a band of any genre or sound, it would be Foxing. The vulnerability and grace with which the band brings its messages and music is truly inspiring to me. Hearing songs like “The Medic,” “Rory,” and “Night Channels” live are all worth the price of admission—even if the band is only in the opening slot of the night.
Make sure to keep up on Foxing, as the band will likely be releasing a new album in 2018 and it is sure to impress and continue the legacy this young band has already started to create.
Up next was Tigers Jaw—emo mainstays for the last ten years, despite a brief break up. The return of Tigers Jaw brought the release of a brilliant comeback album in 2014, “Charmer,” and numerous tours, which put them en route to being signed by Atlantic Records.
Back in May, Tigers Jaw released “Spin,” its latest album that encapsulates years of reflection and dedication into 12 tracks. Ben Walsh and Brianna Collins have become somewhat iconic in the emo scene—like Connor Murphy of Foxing and his trumpet playing—for their ability to play off of each other so well in their songwriting and presentation.
Tigers Jaw played their throwbacks “The Sun” and “Plane vs. Train vs. Submarine,” but kept the set to mostly the hits from the albums “Charmer” and “Spin.” My personal favorite song off of the new album “June” was the highlight of the evening. They were also sure to rip me apart with “Teen Rocket.”
To the tunes of the first three tracks off of “A Black Mile,” Manchester Orchestra greeted the Worcester crowd with the same love and graciousness I’ve experienced for the last ten years. From there, the band broke into a number of classics like “Shake it Out,” “Pensacola,” and “I’ve Got Friends.” The true wonder of a Manchester Orchestra set is how they are able to take the balance they often strike on an album and replicate that balance throughout a live set—sure to control the pacing of the show without making a crowd too overwhelmed with heavy tracks, but being certain to calm folks down with the more serene and methodical tracks as well.
This night was no different. Lead singer and part-time comedian Andy Hull did a fantastic job orchestrating (no pun intended) the entire night as he often talks the crowd about the strange things he thinks about while playing gigs. At one solo gig, I watched him explain the entire plot of the movie “Babe” to an audience member who had never seen it.
I am thankful I get to watch one of today’s best live bands perform. It always fills me with joy to see this band power through a nonstop set that satisfies my love for the new album, while reminding me how much I love the subtle complexity of the band’s earlier and otherwise straightforward tunes.