Gig Review: Written By Wolves / Immerse – Satan’s Hollow, Manchester (17th November 2023)

My first impressions of Satan’s Hollow in Manchester were that it’s probably the most unique venue I’ve ever been to. With the demonic décor and central platform for the bands to preform, this venue is very distinctive and unusual.

Immerse (c) Jack Barker

Arriving as the doors were opening, I was a little taken aback due to their not being a queue. Thinking that the venue team may just be very efficient, we made our way inside and were met with a very empty room. I hoped that maybe people just didn’t arrive early for gigs at this smaller venue such as this, however not many additional people had arrived before the first band of the night Immerse began their set.

With a setlist made with a majority of songs from their upcoming album Energy releasing on the 8th December, it felt like we were being treated to a sneak preview of what’s to come for the band. The album name seems very fitting for this group of Bristolian lads as the energy they were giving throughout the duration of their set was impressive. Lead vocalist Archie Hatfield consistently engaged with the crowd, throwing out comments such as “Bang your heads!” and pulling people round from the area at the sides of the stage to make everyone feel included and involved.

Before “Chemical” Hatfield said, “If you know the words let me hear you!”. From a quick scan of the room, I don’t think many people did, however with a catchy chorus I found myself singing along before the end of song. Announcing during a quick break that they will be touring again in March, I really hope that their next events will draw a bigger crowd as they put on a strong, confident performance. Their latest single “Freaky” with its heavy riff to start flowed effortlessly into “23/19”, which I’d definitely say was the heaviest song of the set with the metalcore “Blurghhh” to complete the vibe.

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I first heard of Written by Wolves from the new releases playlist made by Spotify and only added the couple of songs that were suggested at the time which I’m glad I did, but I also wish I had added more! It’s always interesting watching the stages transform from one band to another, however it isn’t often you see three band members with access to drums. Opening with ‘Not Afraid to Die’ seemed very fitting for the band with lyrics “I love the danger, let the wolves come out to play”. It was clear that Lead vocalist Michael Murphy was very confident on stage and impressed with his vast vocal range during many of their tracks.

Written By Wolves (c) Jack Barker

I have a slight obsession with alternative covers of songs, so to hear one band do a cover of both Linkin Park and Sia in the same set and for it to work so seamlessly was a nice surprise. From doing some quick band research while writing this review, Murphy talks about how much of an inspiration Chester Bennington was to him and that they still play a tribute to him at most of their live shows.

The band’s latest single “Burn” with the music video only releasing two weeks ago proved popular with the crowd with Murphy stating, “If you can sing this one you get extra points” and there were definitely people singing along to the choruses. This followed two other newer tracks “Misery” and “Goddess” and I haven’t been able to get the latter out of my head since.

Murphy introduced “Forever and Always” stating that they don’t really play this song at shows back home, but with the world being so messed up right now it feels very fitting. I think the band were a bit shocked with how many were singing the words back as Murphy stated, “It’s amazing being on the other side of the world with people shouting our lyrics back”. ‘Secrets’, a song touching on the importance of talking about mental health began with Murphy saying, “If we change the way of the world and talk about this shit we can make it better”.

The crowd was still fairly small even towards the end of the night, with the venue definitely not at capacity, however the group that had formed felt like dedicated fans with a large group singing along to the majority of the setlist.

Oli Lyons on percussion, Keys, and Samples brings additional layers and depth to their music and his enthusiastic performance adds to the drama of the night, spending a good chunk of the set with his feet off the floor, either climbing up onto the support for his keyboard or leaping off it, getting some impressive height and almost hitting his head on the ceiling a few times.

Murphy spent most of the final song of the set dancing through the crowd really enjoying the experience off playing to this small room of people on the final night of their European tour. At the start of the set, he announced that it was the last night of the tour and that “’I’m going to give you everything I’ve got”. With what was a very well thought out and confident performance, I think I’m right in assuming that their UK based fans will look forward to more Written by Wolves.

Photos by Jack Barker Photography

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