Feeling very old in comparison to the crowd surrounding us, the first band of the night, Bearings, made their way onto the stage. Looking very cramped, the 5-piece band from Canada definitely needed a bigger stage! The crowd were joining in and clapping along straight away and by their reaction, Bearings have some new fans in Manchester. The fact that they called Manchester a beautiful place before playing “Beautiful Places” helped. A few songs into the set, lead singer Doug Cousins introduced their new album Blue in the Dark, followed by announcing that they were going to slow the pace down and play the title track. Announcing their final song of the night “Aforementioned”, Cousins told the crowd to dance, to which they didn’t disappoint.
Although it was the band’s first time performing in the UK, they were very confident on the stage and had a great presence. I haven’t seen as many people turning up early for the first support band in a very long time.
After Bearings left the stage, “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco played over the speakers and the energy continued throughout the set change.
It was time for Vukovi to grace the stage – however, lead singer Janine Shilstone spent most of the time in the crowd! Despite some technical issues with her mic to start, Shilstone carried on like nothing was wrong and was very professional. Next thing, she’s in the crowd, standing on a box as she wasn’t feeling well and could hear herself better there. The crowd around her definitely didn’t mind!
Playing their most recent single “C.L.A.U.D.I.A”, it was clear to see that the band had some fans in the audience. A few songs in Shilstone asked the crowd “Are you all ok tonight?” before telling her fellow band members to cut straight to “Animals” as she was going to have the cut the set slightly short. With a quick “High five for being mental” after telling the crowd she had been warned that Manchester was a crazy place, they played the last song of the night, “La Di Da”. Shilstone had obviously been reserving some energy for this final song and she didn’t hold back!
With a dramatic two minutes countdown, you could feel the excitement growing in the room. Opening the set with “Lonely Dance”, Set It Off had the crowd dancing right from the beginning, and this didn’t stop throughout the entire set. I was impressed with the crowd’s dedication to follow every movement lead singer Cody Carson instructed. From clapping to waving side to side, the room was in sync. “Uncontainable” had people up on their friend’s shoulders and, as I could repeat about pretty much every song in the set, every word was being sung back to the band.
With a quick break to talk to the crowd, Carson stated “You’re all on fire tonight!” before “N.M.E.” Half way through the song, Carson prompted the crowd to get down and on the count of three, “JUMP!”. At this point we had moved to the back of the room, so this looked impressive! During “Killer in the Mirror” Carson jumped down to the barrier, much to the crowd’s approval. I don’t think they expected him to climb on top and start standing on the crowd’s hands before surfing his way back to the stage though.
“Unopened Windows” touched the hearts of everyone in the venue after a speech about Carson’s dad. He mentioned the Irish folk song “Danny Boy” about a son going to war and his father possibly not being around when he got back, to which Carson can relate to with going off to college. During the song, Dan Clermont put down his guitar and wielded a trumped that used to be Carson’s dads. “Upside down” saw Clermont and Carson in a brass duet with the addition of Carson’s on the saxophone.
The band left the stage with a recorded message playing. Not long after, drummer Maxx Danziger returned for an epic drum solo. This involved songs such as Britney Spears’ “Toxic”, Ariana Grande’s “Seven Rings” and “Baby Shark”. A few songs later, it was time for the band to perform a medley, as, in Carson’s words: “We want to fit as many songs in as we possibly can”. It was the first time doing it on an overseas tour and you could tell that the fans were dedicated as each snippet was sung back as loud as the one before. It was great to hear songs such as “Ancient History”, “Bleak December” and “Swan Song” which are some of my favourites.
The penultimate song of the main set “Why Worry” sent the room crazy, being one of the band’s biggest hits. With a speech about the tour being their first sell out tour, Carson said, “Nights like tonight are more than I can describe in words” and that “Tonight, we are equal” before the final song “Midnight Thoughts” began.
When the band left the stage, the crowd were cheering so loudly that no one really reacted when the venue’s alarm sounded! Set It Off took the stage once again for a final two songs encore. “Partners in Crime” had the first circle pit of the night form, which had some of audience looking slightly confused. Ending the set with a crowd favourite “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, this was definitely the climax of the evening.
Photos by Jack Barker Photography