Orson - Manchester Academy 1 - 23.10.06

This time last year your correspondent took a friend to a small bar in Manchester to watch an unknown band. The friend rarely watched live music, his most recent CD was the latest album from U2 or Oasis and he never watched unsigned bands. By the end of the set he was convinced this band were going to be massive. That band readers was orson and it's become one of
those "I Was There" moments for the people of Manchester and those that weren't really there are forced to lie and say they were there.

It's important for Orson that they were discovered in Manchester, instead of London, because despite their chart domination over the past 12 months Orson are an unconventional band in every sense of the word. Far from spritly young pups we've come to expect from bands such as the Arctic Monkeys and The Kooks, Orson are all pushing well into their 30s and struggled for 8 years as an unsigned band before being discovered online and being asked to fly over to the In The City conference in Manchester where got signed, money was lavished on them and a few weeks later they'd had their debut video recorded and were supporting Duran Duran on their Uk tour. Perversely the worst song they have in an amazing collection "No Tomorrow" went to number 1.

Not much has changed for the band since we last saw them. Sure they're a lot tighter and now look like a full blown stadium band just waiting to break over but the set list is essentially the same. Those classic R&B influences, Chuck Berry not R Kelly, are shining through louder than ever but most of all they are proving themselves as classic songwriters. Although it isnt played tonight they recently wrote the lastest Sugababes single "Easy" which has the Orson stamp all over it, but it spruced up Richard X style for the pop masses and the only worry is that Orson dont simply become jobbing songwriters like Greg Alexander of New Radicals, a band that they draw obvious musical similarities with.

Tonight in Manchester though the songs that really stand out for us are the ballads "Happiness" and "Look Around". Sure, "Bright Idea" and "Downtown" are great songs but in tonights high voltage set its these slower songs that really stand as Orson's world beating catalogue starts to take shape.

The big question Orson have to ask is they had 8 years to write their debut album. How will they come up with the goods for the second album in just 12 months of constant touring?

Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback www.kirstyumback.com


Click here to leave your comments on the Message Board
(NB: The message board opens in a new window so please disable your pop-up blocker to view)