On the tails of a devastating Blazers playoff loss (am I allowed to talk about sports here? oh well!), I made it to the Roseland Theater in time to catch Georgia natives, Manchester Orchestra a few songs into a roaring set. A rare early show with only a three band bill, this lineup (Kevin Devine, Balance and Composure) seemed to be curated with care, which is something I think bookers miss the mark on more and more these days.
Manchester Orchestra has a way of pulling things out of the listener—I’ve watched tears streaming down people’s faces, hands raised in the air in near-reverie, something akin to a religious experience of sorts. This is what I believe the function of music is, among other things, to tap into a well of emotions, to allow people to transcend themselves for a moment. Throughout their career, the band’s has music always managed to translate a sort of emotional urgency, a deep untapped well of things from the spectrum of feeling—Cope, the band’s most recent release, is not a departure from this in the least.
Backed by a banner that read, in plain, towering letters, COPE, the band—vocalist and guitarist Andy Hull standing unassumingly at center stage—MO filled up the room with a thundering amount of sound. The requisite live show energy was there, sure, but in all of the times I’ve seen them live, the band seems to be bringing a new sort of volume and fervor along with them. Despite some lackluster reviews of their latest release, fans of the band showed up in droves.
While Everything to Nothing (2009) merely toyed with a heavier, more rock n roll vibe, in concert with the quintet’s characteristic brooding, slow-building dirges, Cope is certainly this idea fully realized. The record is more jagged, more in your face, it shows more teeth. The translation of these new songs live is spectacular, the band really seeming at home in this new constructed chaos they’ve created. Dynamically set against less brash songs from their discography, new songs like “Top Notch” and “The Mansion” stood out set against softer, more introspective songs like “The River” or the show’s extremely haunting closer “Where Have You Been?”
Words by J. Fletcher
Photos by Aaron Mills.