The Polyphonic Spree - Manchester Academy - 1.2.03

As the NME Tour rolls into Manchester, the kids are outside clambering for extorniately priced tickets from the touts. I walk out from the venue with Jesse (one of the 10 strong choir members of the Spree) to conduct an interview on the tour bus when two cheeky scamps hold hands outstretched like orphans from Oliver and beg for a pair of tickets. Ever cheerful Jesse chirps back "I'll see you guys later and see what I can do". Were in Manchester of cause so rather than give a friendly wave the kids "Of cause you f**king will - you T**T!!!". Myself, at the point would have been inclined to rip their heads off Ozzy Osbourne style, but naturally the Polyphonic Spree do things differently and simply say with no trace of anger or sadness "That's not a very nice thing to say to someone is it". Its the Spree all over and their inner calm and restraint and general good vibrations is why the 25 piece band are the hottest thing on planet pop right now.

Before we get onto the Spree we must first give a mention to their touring partners. The Thrills are tipped as this years Starsailor or Travis, but these charming Irish Country boys remind us of Teenage Fanclub at their best. Interpol have the intensity of Joy Division and look sexier than the Strokes and have the tunes of neither. And The Datsuns have "Harmonic Generator" to their name and little else. This is why ultimately despite the fact those one tune Aussie pony's are headlining, tonight is all about the Polyphonic Spree and after these guys leave the stage so does half the audience. What more could you ask for than the spirit of Brian Wilson resurrected in the souls of 25 white robbed messiahs who spread messages of love and indeed could stop the war if you played to our World Leaders in a show of unity.

Somewhat cramped up on stage in-between traditional rock set-ups, string sections and brass are the order of the day as the choir belt out the highlights of "The Beginning Stages Of....". Built out of the embers of Tripping Daisy the bands motto is to make music which stands out with the greats and the likes of "Hanging Around", "Soldier Girl" and "Light & Day / Reach For The Sun" prove that the band are not simply a novelty act. Although Tim DeLaughter is undoubtedly the leader of this band / cult / art collective* (delete as appropriate) visually the choir are an arresting image as is the cute cherubic french horn player who bounds around like Iggy Pop possessed.

It doesn't even need saying that the Polyphonic Spree are the most exciting original band we have in 2003 or indeed in the past decade. But when sat side by side next to the likes of the Datsuns it gives hope that maybe the media will look outside the "white boys with guitars" blueprint. And that ultimately is what the Spree offer - hope and salvation for the future and that your dreams can come true if you just believe!!!

Alex McCann

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