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Athlete - The Lowry - 13.7.11

The bar at the Lowry Theatre was bustling, fans steadily gathering and drinks are flowing in readiness for the Deptford, Indie band Athlete, who are taking to the stage in just over an hour.

The four-piece met when they were in their teens and have gone on to have international success since the release of their début single ‘Westside’ in 2001.

Tonight we arrive in time to see the support band, My First Tooth performing their last few songs.

We are seated on the front row which seems great for a review, but strange for a photo shoot, but later on these seats prove to be best seats in the house .

Ten minutes after My First Tooth pack away the last of their instruments we see Joel Pott doing a quick pre-gig guitar check. He has a stunning selection of guitars on stage, each as one as stunning as the next, including and exquisite golden Greisch.

The band arrive on stage, and on time, Joel apologises that their drummer Steve Roberts isn’t with them tonight, but that they do have his laptop, he grins wickedly. I instantly feel that something will be missing tonight. However, the strings are getting strummed and the band immediately launch into Half Light (a track from their second album Tourist released in 2005), followed by Super Human Touch from their last album ‘Black Swan’. Without the drums, the band seem more enthusiastic.

Pott performs Love Come Rescue and Vehicles and Animals Solo on his acoustic guitar. His voice is deep and sultry, luring us into the heart of every song and I really feel he’s making an tremendous effort to please him audience.

The last time I saw Athlete perform was at Band on the Wall early in 2010, and I’d forgotten how much I loved their music. Their lyrics reflecting some of life’s most difficult and heart wrenching situations without being over dramatic. Listen carefully to the words of Rubik’s Cube and The Getaway and (Black Swan).

Pott encourages the audience participate, he jokes with his fans about Salford and said how he loves Manchester and then apologises ‘sorry Salchester’ he laughs, enjoying the interaction. He was neither shy nor outlandish, talking to us between songs, which gave the gig a more intimate feel.

Hurricane (their second track from Beyond the Neighbourhood) was sung at a slower tempo than the recorded version, but didn’t disappoint. Pott encouraged the audience to stand, egging them up and out of their cramped seats. The gig was a sell-out and I wondered why such a small, and seated, venue was chosen. Seated being unusual for a band that has such a strong and active on-stage presence. It’s hard to dance along when your wedged between the aisles.

The band performed songs from all four albums Vehicles and Animals (2003), Tourist (2005), Beyond the Neighbourhood (2007) and Black Swan (2009).

The encore seemed to some too soon for my liking, but it was brief, and they were soon back on stage and launched into The Getaway.

Their finale was grand and carefully orchestrated. The band braced themselves momentarily. The opening chords of Wires being instantly recognisable. The band receiving a tremendous cheer from the audience. Wires, reached number four in the UK singles charts and was written by Pott following the premature birth of his daughter. It never fails to bring a tear to your eyes.

I think the audience were expecting more. And I, for one, could have listened to them all night. The only disappointing factor was they didn’t sing my favourite song Chances.
Oh well... Maybe next time...

Words / Photo: Amanda J Window

 



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