Inglorious / City Of Thieves / Blind River

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Inglorious / City Of Thieves / Blind River - O2 Academy 2, Manchester (UK) - 07 February 2019

We all know the leavings/firings, hirings, social media flounces, angry response and teary apologies surrounding divisive figure Nathan James. In the middle of this, a fantastic album, 'Ride To Nowhere' was released and the furore threatened to overwhelm it. So this tour needed to build bridges and show some stability.

It didn't start too well. Blind River told us, rather wearily, that they had been directed to play an acoustic set when a full on rip-roarer would be much more preferable to them. What did they do? Play it like an arena show. Throwing shapes, main-man and Catweazle lookalike Harry Armstrong gently amazed and unpacked a tremendous roaring voice, they were rather a revelation. The crowd loved 'em and rightly so, never did an acoustic show Rock so much.

I was looking forward to City Of Thieves so much as their album is a rocket-fuelled sweet thing. What a disappointment. Far too loud, they decided to bang it out and so lost all of that melody. Gangly frontman Jamie looks like Joey Ramone and sometimes sounds like him too. The three-piece were fairly immobile, but when they allowed it, those honeyed melodies came through and delighted, but they want to be Airbourne so much it hurts.

Inglorious were wonderful tonight. Blessed with a warm sound and James favoured with a voice which is clearly all there, 'Where Are You Now' opened things triumphantly, the band clearly enjoying themselves although keyboards can't be heard much of the time.

James played a blinder too. This wasn't a night for shouting about success, although he did a bit of that, this was a night to laugh at himself. And so he came to us with "big crowd for a Thursday night!" call and gave the "new" band time to solo, the sweet, high 'Glory Days' he wanted to "get out of the way, because it's hard", disarming modesty. And the band provided wonderful groove, 'Read All About It' a glorious trip, 'Breakaway' uncompromising, only really dipping for an ill-advised Alanis Morissette cover, the album title becoming absolutely undeniable after a strangely tentative start. And this is the thing with Inglorious now, they are not the juggernaught strapped to a rocket, they've faltered and that lends them humanity, so that when new young axe slinger Delacruz reveals a sign which reads "never underestimate me" on his guitar after a solo, it's hard to denigrate him, just as with James when he asks Heather Leone, joining for a singalong "nice coat. Asos?"

The kerfuffle and his recent familial losses were mentioned very honestly before a poignant 'Faraway' and 'I Don't Know You' smouldered to a finish. Inglorious were warmer, more human and tonight, better than ever. Ride To Nowhere? Just enjoy the view.

Steve Swift

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