Live Reviews

Massive Wagons, The Virginmarys – Manchester Academy 2: Live Review

Massive Wagons, The Virginmarys – Manchester Academy 2 – 18th April 2023

Massive Wagons’ Triggered album, released at the back end of ’22, was the latest in a series of records that’s seen the Lancaster Hard Rockers build, and build, and.. continue to build, a formidable following. The Academy 2 now conquered twice, they may find themselves having to move to venues where the increasing numbers can be accommodated. Success begets success and all that. The investment in the production values sees a bright decorated stage as their playground – Bowz and Alex Thistlethwaite get to pound away on the Triggered riser that runs the back of the stage, leaving the Adam Thistlethwaite/Stevie Holl guitar pairing to fill in any gaps left by Baz Mills who’s threatening those at the barrier with the mic stand.

Tonight, they’re filming a video, or at least acquiring some footage for their next single. Cue the confetti cannons blowing forth as Gone Are The Days opens proceedings with Baz Mills decked out in nothing less than the usual eye-catching designs and like a midfielder of old, covering every inch of the stage. It’s Triggered too that provides a flurry at the start. these. No concessions to playing the old favourites and slipping the new ones in unnoticed.

The first curveball comes with two – yes, two – performances of Sawdust. They’re filming some footage for a new single, so we’re required to “go bananas” as the lights flare and the fireworks fizz in the Academy 2 version of a Rammstein show – health & safety/risk assessments presumably all being in place. “Shall we do it again?” quips Baz as the second verison gets dusted off? Wouldn’t be a bad thing to be fair – although the Wagons’ version of the massive Immigrant Song riff and the rapid-fire delivery might be a test on the stamina.

We also get Buck form the very first album – “not been played for ten years – apart from last night of course…when we made albums with one good song,” noted; and if anyone’s in doubt, Buck is a belter of a grinding riff that fits right in with ’23 Massive Wagons. Perhaps we should have a dip back in the MW time tunnel and re-evaluate the journey. Throw in some cover versions that shift from Metallica to Ricky Martin (and thankfully, as promised on social media – “don’t expect any Oasis covers“) , before Generation Prime and House Of Noise give way to set closer from, what was for many, the gateway Full Nelson album. Northern Boy could be their ‘Wanted Dead Or Alive’ cowboy song, and a brooding end to a set that’s strong enough to even omit Fee Fi Fo Fum and Bangin’ In Your Stereo.

While the encore flashes by with the stuttering Triggered highlight, Skateboard and a final rabble-rousing finale/reminder that we’re In It Together, it’s a hats off to the Lancaster bombers. Never less than great. 110% reliable, 150% great fun and 200% committed. Massive Wagons are simply unbeatable value.

Support tonight is from The Virginmarys from. From down the road in Macc, it’s a hometown-ish gig and finds them, riding high on the release of the Devil Keeps Coming EP. The EP features as expected, The Meds opening proceedings with the sort of clout that you might think is the initial rush and shot of adrenaline of being onstage, but continues relentlessly (and impressively) through the eleven-song set. Less is more and all that, sees them power through, the drums getting a particularly good trashing, as the only concession is in Bang Bang Bang, the brooding closing number.

Ally and Danny take a bow. A band who do their taking onstage with a commitment to playing in front of people who they thank most graciously for the support for the band and or live music. The likes of The Lovely Eggs and Royal Blood will know full well, when there are just the two of you you really work hard to support one another. For the second time tonight – hats off.

Massive Wagons online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

The Virginmarys online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Youtube

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