Entering any venue without having to rush or miss the first act is a definite positive to only having two bands on the line up. Once we entered the 02 Ritz there was a massive queue forming for the merch stand which didn’t ease until the first band of the night, Eddie Stoilow, took the stage.
Opening with “Hey You”, a track which was released in 2010 and became an instant top ten hit on CZ Radio’s official chart, proved popular with some fans in the audience. Without a pause, they began “Baby” which showcased harmonies between Honza Žampa on lead vocals and Jakub Lenz on backing vocals. Zampa introduced the band saying that “It’s a musician’s dream to travel” and that they chose a softer set in comparison to The Rasmus performing later.
“We Rule This World” was next, made famous by its links to the Eurovision song contest in 2018. It had the audience clapping along in the chorus. Keeping the pace of the set, the next song “Beautiful Wonderful”, was definitely a contender for the most romantic song of the night. Before they began “With You”, Zampa dedicated the song to his dad who sadly passed away.
The final song, “Coming Home”, was slightly faster paced and great for crowd participation towards the end, with the audience echoing “woo”s. With a massive cheer from the crowd, each band member threw a hat into the audience and asked if it was ok if they took a picture before making their exit.
Half an hour later and it was time for The Rasmus to get their set going. There was a massive cheer from the moment the band appeared and after the first word that lead singer Lauri Ylönen sang, the audience joined in with pretty much every word. Well, at least for the Dead Letters album. Ylönen, still rocking the trademark feathers in his hair, didn’t stop moving for the entire set and the energy on stage was mirrored by the crowd throughout the night.
Although there were plenty of men in the audience, there were a lot of fan-girls cooing over Ylönen and many reliving a great album from their youth. As soon as the first few notes of “In the Shadows” began, the whole venue was jumping or pumping their fists in the air and I think nearly every phone was raised recording the song. The third song on the album, “Still Standing”, was dedicated to a friend of the band’s that sadly passed away a while ago.
Ylönen announced that “25 years ago when we first started we didn’t think they would still be here tonight” but with Dead Letters signifying the band’s major breakthrough in 2003 still being received and appreciated by crowds in such a great way, there are a lot of people who are very glad they still are. “Guilty” was definitely one of the more popular songs off the album and was the bounciest of the night since “In the Shadows”.
Hearing another story behind the song, Ylönen explained that he wrote “Not Like the Other Girls” for a friend who had lost everything, and he wanted to cheer her up. He asked after the song “When we came to play about 15 years or so ago for the first time, how many of you were here?” and it sounded like most of the room had been. For the final song of the album, Ylönen started alone on stage with recorded strings for the very emotional “Funeral Song”.
After the entirety of the album, the band played a few acoustic songs, some that they hadn’t performed acoustically before. The next ten songs were chosen by the fans towards the beginning of the year in a Facebook poll starting with “Sail Away”. Switching back from acoustic, Ylönen told us that the next song, “Night After Night”, was one of his favourites before shouting “Manchester jump”!
Some of the songs on the setlist had never been played live before, one being “Dead Promises” which the crowd loved. Once again, the venue went crazy when “F-F-F-Falling” started which carried on throughout “Livin’ in a World Without You”. Even Ylönen stated “For a Monday night, you guys are f*cking loud!” before “Thank you so much for this beautiful night! We hope to come back to Manchester very soon” and stating they are currently working on a new album so fans might not have too long to wait.
At the end of the set, the band took a bow at the front of the stage and as soon as they left there were chants of “We want more!”. While the chants continued, one of the venue’s security staff confirmed to us that the night was over when he walked past us saying “He’s definitely not coming back, I’ve just walked him to the tour bus”!
Photos by Jack Barker Photography