Saturday 24th of October saw the splendid setting of Manchester’s Ritz play host to some of the most stirring and stimulating bands who are continuing on their rise through British music. The atmosphere surging through the Ritz is utterly incredible as fans both old and new untie to see Fightstar preform in all their former glory. Having recently released their first album ‘Behind the Devil’s back’ in over six years it is safe to say that there is an intense excitement with a queue formed the whole way down the street as I arrive.
Opening the show was Northern Ireland’s prominent metal ensemble Making Monsters. Having gigged relentlessly throughout Ireland and the UK since their formation in 2011 they have continued to evolve both musically and in their performance displaying their range of diverse influences. Introducing the audience to songs from their currently unreleased EP, ‘Bad Blood, Rose and Better’ they provided us with an insight to a more pop orientated side of the band with the audience responding and clapping along with the songs.
While still slightly under the radar Making Monsters nevertheless exhibit the qualities of one of the most exciting rock bands to emerge with a distinct fearlessness to their performance. Lead Singer Emma Gallagher’s illustrious vocal range is unrivalled tonight in terms of range effortlessly moving from deep demonic screams to dulcet sounds and tones. Demanding attention from the audience the crowd are more than impressed shuffling their way forward towards the stage at Gallagher’s command.
It also has to be remembered that while Arcane Roots and Fightstar have built up a significant allegiance of fans in the UK Making Monsters are considerably new to this audience and to have had such a rapturous reception is testament to their power and performance as a band. Finishing of their set with the fleeting in your face force that is ‘Nosebleed’ the song attacks the listener with its rapid drum assault and guttural screams with Gallagher jumping down off the stage to get right into the audiences face before leaving them to ask what just happened?
Arcane Roots are next to grace the Ritz stage bringing with them their soaring repertoire and impressive collection of new songs from their latest E.P ‘Heaven and Earth’. Their new track ‘Slow Dance’ proves particularly mesmerising with its cinematic and ambitious feel combined with it’s poignant lyrics. With so many genres beautifully blended together Arcane Roots have stumbled onto a dreamy combination of rock and pop which they present stunningly to the audience.
What is very clear from both support acts is that they can command enough attention and power in their performance to make a headline act and I suspect to see so in the near future. Lead Singer Andrew Groves’ soulful serenades and vocals are especially passionate throughout ‘Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves’ where his angst filled screams helps the song progress while it shifts from light to dark motifs. It evolves emotionally from the opening piano chords to its huge impassioned conclusion capturing everything they are as a band and provides the highlight of their set to a more than captivated audience.
Lastly, taking to the stage for the final fragment of the night it is abundantly clear from the opening chord who this audience belong to. As the lights lowered Fightstar emerge onto the stage to a more than triumphant reception beginning their set with a track from their 2005 album ‘Grand Unification’ the melodic ‘Sleep Well Tonight’ was the perfect introduction to their performance. After a more than noticeable absence of over four years questions were being raised if they would ever return but after their 10 year anniversary tour that took place at the beginning of the year it was evident that Fightstar were not over.
Despite their lack of presence in recent times the band appear just as tight and cohesive as ever and the audience are more than thrilled by their trademark thrashing guitar and gritty vocals. Churning out fan favourites such as ‘Build an Army’ and ‘Paint your Target’ the band explodes into colossal and kinetic guitar riffs. Proving that Fightstar fans are more than committed to the band they’re more than versed with the lyrics screaming along to each and every song the band play with enthusiasm.
Introducing his brother Will Simpson to assist with guitar duties during arguably the heaviest songs of their set Charlie commences into the title track of the album ‘Behind the Devil’s Back’ helping to introduce us to a fresher Fightstar but on that is still instantly identifiable. The rousing ferociousness of ‘Sink With the Snake’ while combined with its melodic elements and catchy lyrics proves a crowd favourite and is definitely the highlight of their set. Launching into ‘War machine’ the band sound as brutal as ever with Charlie’s cascading vocals helping to transcend the song to its anthemic climax.
Before ending their set with ‘Deathcar’ the crowd is sent into a frenzy while drummer Omar Abidi remains as powerful as ever standing as an indomitable force throughout and helping the band to remain unified. Returning for an encore the band finishes with ‘Mono’ it is both an epic and poignant finish to the evening and one the audience will not be forgetting soon and proving why Fightstar still hold prestige throughout the music scene. It is a flawlessly put together set as the band managed to amalgamate a collection of crowd pleasers while presenting their new songs simultaneously which made for a spectacular show.
Aine Cronin-McCartney, Gigging NI.com