Gig Review: RØRY / Uninvited / lleo – Manchester Academy 2 (5th March 2024)

lleo (c) Jack Barker

On the 6th night of RØRY‘s UK tour, Manchester Academy 2 witnessed a night that was highly conscious of mental health. Tonight’s set from TikTok sensation RØRY might not have been as musically heavy as the bands we usually cover for Moshville Times, but the evening delved into some heavy and hard-hitting subjects, including substance abuse, grief, suicide, and relationships breaking down. With the trigger warnings addressed, let’s delve into what a RØRY gig entails.

The first act to take the stage was lleo, embarking on their inaugural tour. However, you wouldn’t have guessed it from the confidence displayed throughout their set. With a bass-heavy intro, “Party” kicked off the night with perhaps the most upbeat song of the evening.

Acknowledging their ADHD and Bipolar, lleo introduced their latest single released two weeks ago, “Noise”, as their attempt to convey their daily mental struggles. By the time the penultimate song of the night, “Serotonin”, began, the crowd was clearly enjoying the music, eventually joining in to sing the chorus of the final song, “Boyfriend”.

After the set, lleo spent a significant amount of time mingling with the crowd, taking pictures, and handing out leaflets.

Uninvited (c) Jack Barker

Next up were Uninvited from Glasgow, showcasing their debut album released last year. With Taylor Ray Dillon and Gillian Dhlakama sharing vocal duties throughout the set, “Gonna Get Better” saw many heads bobbing, considering it’s one of the band’s most popular songs on Spotify. Uninvited shared that they messaged RØRY on the off-chance she was looking for support acts, which led to their appearance tonight.

Taking the lead in crowd interaction, Dhlakama maintained the melancholic vibe with “Survivor’s Guilt”, concluding the track by saying, “Well, that’s as sad as we get.” Fans of bands like Against the Current and We Are The In Crowd might find Uninvited appealing.

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As the stage transitioned, featuring tracks by bands like My Chemical Romance, Paramore, We The Kings, and All Time Low, it was time for RØRY to perform. Starting with the catchy yet slightly aggressive “ANTI REPRESSANT”, the crowd came to life instantly, singing along enthusiastically. The party atmosphere continued during “Baby Vendetta”, a song that stayed with many since hearing it for the first time tonight.

Clearly taken aback by the reaction at the end of “Help Your Friends Get Sober”, RØRY exclaimed, “For those of you that don’t know, I am sober,” receiving a huge cheer from the crowd. For those unfamiliar with the singer’s career, she has previously produced music under her full name Roxanne Emery but returned sober in 2019, performing and releasing new music under the stage name RØRY.

RØRY (c) Jack Barker

With three songs from the latest EP Family Tree up next, the trio of heart-wrenching songs “Alternative”, “Hurt Myself”, and “Family Tree” evoked a range of emotions from the crowd, with some singing along passionately. Towards the end of “Family Tree” RØRY stated, “This was the first song I wrote for the Family Drama album. I hate how many of you guys relate to this,” referring to the song’s references about cutting ties with toxic family members.

While it may sound cliché when an artist declares the current crowd as “The best crowd of the tour,” many statements made by RØRY throughout the evening felt genuine.

RØRY’s music is hard to categorize, drawing from various genres. While introducing the next song on the setlist, RØRY spoke about being almost 40 and just getting started with the current music project, while many influences are on 10, 15, or even 20-year anniversary tours. Joking about inadvertently creating their music sub-genre of “sadcore”, RØRY began the song of the same name.

Though I could delve deeper into the stories RØRY shared throughout the set, my explanation won’t fully capture the raw emotion in the venue. In a world where it’s easier to hide behind a smile and suppress emotions, the experience was refreshing.

Ending the set with a massive thank you to the tour crew and partner Rich at the back of the room, RØRY performed an older track, “Uncomplicated”. The crowd went wild one last time, throwing an impressive number of friendship bracelets onto the stage, which they had been asked to keep hold of until the last song earlier in the set.

Tonight’s experience wasn’t just an average gig. With the assistance of all three acts that took to the stage, this was a safe space for anyone who doesn’t fit into the “normal” box due to medical conditions, sexuality, gender, or life experience, to come together, sing along, cry, and laugh in this group therapy session.

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Photos by Jack Barker Photography

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