Gig Review: Palaye Royale / Starbenders – Academy, Manchester (7th February 2023)

Almost 11 months to the day since Palaye Royale were last in Manchester, they were back tonight for another headline show this time at Manchester Academy. Tonight’s tour being the Fever Dream tour, named after the 2022 album of the same name, perhaps the line from their 2016 track that states “I don’t feel quite right / There’s something in the air tonight” would have been a little more appropriate of a tour name, as there seems to be something in the air with a cough/vocal issues affecting a number of tonight’s band members.

Upon arriving at the venue, we noticed the stage timings posted in the box office window were missing special guests Yonaka, who we had been looking forward to seeing. After research on Facebook, we found the following statement from lead vocalist Theresa Jarvis which had been posted two hours earlier:

Hey guys I’m absolutely gutted. But we won’t be playing tonight’s show in Manchester. I’m not very well and just seen the doctor and have been advised not to sing. I hate having to cancel shows and these shows in particular have been so beautiful, but I have to be careful. So sorry. Hope you still have a wonderful night. Love T xx

While this was gutting for fans of the band, we completely understand the reasoning behind them being unable to play as Jarvis clearly needs to put her health first at this time. While writing this review the band have also had to pull out of the following night’s show in Glasgow, however with a gap in shows on Thursday evening hopefully this gives Jarvis enough time to recover so Yonaka can re-join the tour in London on Friday night. [According to setlist.fm, they did – Ross]

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Starbenders (c) Jack Barker

If there was a slight silver lining in the last minute line-up change, it is that Atlanta’s Starbenders were given the opportunity to perform a slightly longer set than normal to the Manchester crowd. With a very distinctive sound and appearance the entire set was a slightly surreal experience and at times felt like we had been transported back to the 1980s on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip during the early days of the hair metal scene. 

While it seemed the majority of the audience hadn’t heard of the band as there wasn’t many people singing along, they clearly appreciated the performance as there were loud cheers at the end of each song. Whenever vocalist Kimi Shelter provoked a response from the room, such as when introducing the song “Bitches”, asking: “Are there any bitches in the house?” Followed by “This one’s for you,” there was a loud cheer. It wasn’t until the last song of the set “If You Need It” that I noticed drummer Emily Moon with a brave outfit choice, with only black tape in the shape of letters MCR across her chest, which only added to the band’s unique look. 

During the switch over between bands it was clear several the crew were wearing face masks, a suggestion that more than just one person on this tour had fallen ill. With lots of dry ice filling the stage, lights started flashing and Oasis’s “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was blasted through the speakers further building suspense. An announcement stating “Is everybody in? The ceremony is about to begin” kicked off this fever dream. 

With possibly every phone in the venue raised to record proceedings, Palaye Royale bounced on the stage to preform opening track “Nightmares” and the crowd that had been slightly subdued during the support band came to life. It was clear from the outset that lead vocalist Remington Leith was not fighting fit for tonight’s gig, as he was clearly coughing and had to take a seat on the steps at the back of the stage by the end of the first track. However, as Queen once said “The Show Must Go On” and being the true professional he is, Leith was able to soldier on for the rest of the set. During “No Love In LA” and “You’ll Be Fine” both Leith and guitarist Sebastian Danzig both jumped down from the stage to get closer to the crowd, although this spectacle was outdone a few songs later when Leith, armed with a large water pistol, took a ride in an inflatable dinghy over the crowd. 

Palaye Royale (c) Jack Barker

Proving that tonight’s crowd were by far the liveliest I have seen so far this year (5 gigs in), the entire room was bouncing in sync during the chorus to “Fucking With My Head” and didn’t need to be asked twice when Leith declared “I wanna see a giant circle in the middle!”

Slowing the pace for “Oblivion”, drummer Emerson Barrett came down from the drum set high at the back of the stage to play piano for this emotional track. It was during “Punching Bag” that Leith actually alluded to being ill saying he “Woke up deathly ill, but the last thing I wanted to do was cancel Manchester,” which led to a huge round of applause for continuing on even this far. The last chorus of the song gave Leith a chance to catch his breath as the crowd sang every word at the top of their lungs. 

“Off With the Head” off the 2022 Fever Tree album has never been released as a single, however proved to be a popular addition to the setlist with the room chanting the chorus back to the band each time. The crowd seemingly enjoy it just as much as the previous track, “Mr. Doctor Man” which was one of the more popular tracks off the band’s 2016 album Boom Boom Room. Both songs seeing some of the first crowd surfers of the evening and Leith splitting the crowd down the middle for Barrett to take a run down the centre of the room. 

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Leaving the stage, there were instant chants of “One more song” from the whole crowd, to which the band obviously obliged. With the piano intro to “Lonely” played by Leith, the crowd once again were singing along to every word. Bringing the show to a close was “Fever Dream” phones were once again in the air. With confetti cannons showering the audience with shiny confetti, the night came to end and hopefully Leith was going to rest up ready to do it all again the night after. 

Palaye Royale are a band that seem to be going from strength to strength playing at bigger venues each time they return to the UK, having played the smaller Academy venues and Manchester’s Albert Hall on previous occasions. We, along with the rest of their dedicated fan base will be back to see them next time too, hopefully Leith will be in good health next time. 

Pics by Jack Barker Photography

Palaye Royale: official | facebook | twitter | instagram | spotify | youtube

Starbenders: officialfacebook | twitter | instagram | youtube

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