THE DANDY WARHOLS // ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER
The Dandy Warhols play sold-out show at Manchester’s Albert Hall
A large net of balloons is festooned high up above us and this is accompanied by a couple of grand inflatable silver twenty-fives identifying the number of years The Dandy Warhols have been plugging away. The tour is not some cynical money-grabbing opportunity to exploit former glories though; the band released their ninth studio album Why You So Crazy just last week and the evening is an opportunity to present the best moments from this typically idiosyncratic record.
At the end of the show an overheard accusation compared the band's performance to a plank of wood, whilst the usual OTT platitudes doled out on places like Instagram described the show as the best ever. To be fair, the evening probably fell somewhere inbetween. The band open in almost complete darkness with the plodding 'Forever' and this is followed by the cooler vibe of 'Styggo' and this approach is indicative of the most frustrating aspect of the show; the band deliver several moments of fuzzy, psychedelic brilliance but these are accompanied by tracks which become drawn out for no discernible purpose.
The energetic response to 'Get Off' underscores the importance of the album it comes from. Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia was the record that really provided the platform and the audience for everything that followed and the jaunty track is lapped up with glee by a partisan crowd. Keyboard magician Zia McCabe adds welcome variety with the shindig 'Highlife' and it's quickly followed by a couple of its new album compatriots in the form of 'Small Town Girls' and the brilliant 'Motor City Steel'. The latter really is quintessential Warhols; Taylor-Taylor's nonchalant vocals glide over a sparkling synth bed which is punctuated by Peter Holmström's subtle but effective guitar. It's jaunty, breezy and full of the laid-back slacker charm which the band are famous for. This is followed by a mid-section which is impaired by a lack of energy and dynamism. Courtney Taylor-Taylor is not one to to bounce around the stage but the plodding 'I Love You' slams the brakes on an evening that was just beginning to pick up some pace. 'And Then I Dreamt of Yes' doesn't really help matters and the energy of the crowd begins to dissipate.
Taylor-Taylor has been mostly silent but he takes a moment to introduce The Specials’ trumpet player, Pablo Mandelson to the stage and this is exactly what the evening needs; the opening strains of 'Godless' are greeted by an appreciative crowd and the acoustic tones along with Mandelson's trumpet motifs sever the fuzzy, distortion cord that was perhaps holding the evening back and when this is followed by the natty cool of 'All the Money or the Simple Life Honey' the crowd are back!
If it wasn't for a certain mobile phone provider's astute use of 'Bohemian Like You' in one of their otherwise unremarkable advertisements, the trajectory of the band would have been completely different and when the rolling drums of the song's intro are allied to McCabe's keys, a roar goes up from the crowd. Taylor-Taylor might not move around much but the energy is back in the room. Holmström may not be the most exuberant guitarist either, preferring to hide behind the large brim of his fedora but he adopts a Keith Richards swagger as he prowls his corner of the stage, even adding a few Pete Townsend windmills to proceedings. The crowd chip in with excitable whoops at the relevant moment in the chorus and the balloons we'd almost forgotten about tumble onto a delighted audience below. 'Every Day Should be a Holiday' maintains the vigour and you realise during these moments that bands like Kasabian wouldn't exist if it wasn't for The Dandy Warhols' inventive coalescence of genres and instrumentation.
It may not have been a great evening but it certainly ain't a bad one; the impressive quality of the new record demonstrates that they are not a band cynically going through the motions as a career begins to wane and when McCabe's pulsing synths begin to fade after the final track and the house lights come up, the general consensus from most seem to be that The Dandy Warhols are still relevant in the 21st century.
SETLIST: | THE DANDY WARHOLS : ALBERT HALL, MANCHESTER - 31.01.2019
Crack Cocaine Rager
Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth
We Used To Be Friends
Small Town Girls
Motor City Steel
You Were the Last High
I Love You
Well They’re Gone
And Then I Dreamt of Yes
All the Money or the Simple Life Honey
Bohemian Like You
Every Day Should Be a Holiday
Pete International Airport