I gotta admit, I was late to this. Only about ten minutes, but still, that’s ten minutes of Cadence Weapon I missed, and only now do I realise how stupid that was of me. I’d never heard of Cadence Weapon, I had no idea what I’d be getting from Japandroids’ support act, but walking downstairs to one of the most intense rap performances I’ve ever seen wasn’t high on my list of expectations.
Cadence Weapon AKA Rollie Pemberton has a commanding stage presence. One minute, he’s scarily passionate as his song ramps up (As seen in set highlight ‘Conditioning’) the next minute, he’s polite to level of stereotype (He is, after all, Canadian, and they’re famous for it) and he seemed genuinely happy to be there. By the last track, Loft Party, from his new album ‘Hope In Dirt City’ the crowd was well behind him, dancing and singing along and he left the stage to the applause of a room full of new fans.
Japandroids took to the stage half an hour later to a sold out room of die hard fans. As guitarist Brian King introduced himself and the band, drummer David Prowse was having a few technical difficulties. His mic failed to work at all, and the lead had to be completely replaced. This only endeared the band even more to the audience, both King and Prowse have a special gift when it comes to on stage patter and they made the minor setback into a fun part of the show.
Once that was over, it was time to get serious, and what better way to start than with ‘The Boys Are Leaving Town’ the opening track from 2009 debut album ‘Post-Nothing’. It’s a perfect example of what the band has to offer in the live setting. Japandroids have a reckless abandon to their performances that make them one of the greatest live acts currently touring.
New track ‘The Nights of Wine and Roses’ from their sophomore album ‘Celebration Rock’ was a definite set highlight. King and Prowse trade lines and share vocals throughout the song, and it’s as fast and loud as anything they’ve has ever done. After the song was over, King went on to tell the crowd that although it might not have sounded great live, it’s his favourite song on the record and we should give it a chance. In many ways, however, this song is the epitome of what Japandroids are about. If you ever want to turn someone onto the band, this is the song to do it.
Unfortunately, more mic problems plagued the band, with King being unable to hear his own voice when playing, and as the set wore on, he began to get visibly upset by this. He didn’t let it get to him though,first and foremost, Japandroids shows are always fun. King gave a hilarious monologue about how his between song banter is based on Bill Pullman’s speech from ‘Independence Day’ and towards the end, they started to jam to the intro of AC/DC’s ‘If You Want Blood You’ve Got It’ before revealing they haven’t gotten around to learning the rest.
One criticism you often hear about Norther Quarter venues is that it’s full of hipsters too cool to dance, but that couldn’t have been more untrue at Soup Kitchen on this night. The crowd was crazy, especially during fan favourites like ‘Wet Hair’ ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’ and new single ‘The House That Heaven Built’ which elicited a massive singalong, to the visible delight of the band. It was one of those great moments where the bands energy drives the crowd which bounces back to the band and the separation between ‘artist’ and ‘audience’ dissolves and all that’s left is a room full of friends.
Ending the show with ‘For The Love of Ivy’ was perhaps a brave choice, not only is it from the new album which isn’t released yet, but it’s a cover of a song by The Gun Club a band King mentioned in a recent interview he’d be surprised if Japandroids fans were aware of. It didn’t matter though, the crowd ate it right up and went crazier than they’d been all night. Towards the end of the song, one fan ran from one side of the stage to the other, diving off into the crowd, only to hurtle face first into a giant pillar in the middle of the room. It was hilarious. It’s okay, I checked up on him after the gig. He’s fine, he saw the funny side.
Japandroids are, in this reviewers opinion, THE BEST LIVE BAND IN THE WORLD ™. If the new album is half as good as this live show, it has a very good chance of being the best album of the year. They promised to return to Manchester later in the year, if you were unlucky enough to miss out on tickets this time around, make sure you catch them as soon as possible.