Witness - Manchester Roadhouse - 15.5.01

A few years ago when Witness were doing the circuit you'd often see punters running from the venue crying tears of sheer terror. It wasn't so much mis-carriage of justice as most of the accusations the band could neither deny or defend - they were plain tiresome and that's a fact. Its just that many like myself failed to see beyond the facade and realize that there was a certain untapped potential beneath the countrified horror. Today of course in the year 2001 acoustic warbling is all the rage and people are perhaps more musically open minded than they were in the hedonistic days of Britpop. Not that they care about fashion or musical trends as it seems they really do tread their own carefully mapped path. On tonight's evidence much of the acoustic warbling has been replaced by a more epic electric set from the new album.

From the outset they set the pace with "You Are All My Own Invention" which could almost be an out-take from Radiohead's "The Bends". While walking down the path marked Buckley there's none of the 6th form whinging of Coldplay and you get the genuine feeling that Witness really believe in their heart wrenching tales. At times frontman comes across as not unlike Chris Helme (Ex-Seahorses) both visually and carrying the same folk-tinged vocal mannerisms. Its perhaps with a certain inevitability that the band will be compared to their hometown peers The Verve and Starsailor and yet there's so much to this 2-D vision. It may be true that oldie "Still" captures the same spirit as the Verve's "The Drugs Don't Work" but it can hold its own and is one of the true lost classics. Then of cause there is "Quarantine" which is received with such warmth and reserved respect that you can't help but be taken away with it all.

I hold my hands up and can genuinely say that tonight Witness shone like the brightest stars. Its been a long time but its proof that if you really have that self believe then the good will out.

Alex McCann