Mercury Rev - Manchester Academy - 8.10.01

After the horrific events on September 11th a lot of American bands have understandably postponed their visits to these shores. In view of this we have to be grateful that Mercury Rev have decided to embark on their tour of the UK. Promoting their new album "All Is Dream" this is the first time they have toured since they released "Deserters Songs" back in January of 1999. Live, a lot rockier and much more impressive and boasting a full six members - two on the keys, three guitarists and one on the back beat. However Jonathan Donahue tries to come over all performance artist but ends up looking like a complete dweeb. When he starts conducting his own band you can't help but feel embarrassed for the poor lad. Vocally he's drowned out by the epic orchestral ambitions of the band which is no bad thing as in this live setting his voice clearly has its limitations.

Just as the band started to play the opening bars to "Holes" I half expected a bemused looking Robert Downey Junior lip synching Elton Johns new single as the similarity is uncanny. As the song progressed though it was undoubtedly Mercury Rev and not the knighted flamboyant piano playing rocker. Like Elton the Rev' are professional, polished and well rehearsed - similarly they are desperately lacking passion and raw excitement. The smug expressions on their faces as they lap the applause up is a patronizing display of self congratulation.

New single "Night Follows Day" is a little gem while "Highway" reminds us why we came here in the first place - to see a band whose music can melt the even the hardest of hearts. But after two hours and numerous encored I was beginning to tire of their melodramatic, grandiose histrionics and my mind began to wander some place else.

Nicholas Paul Godkin