The Antlers – Ritz, Manchester – 31/10/14

The Antlers - Portraits

The Antlers are a band on the slide.  After a couple of earlier albums the band released the amazing Hospice which was followed by the very good Burst Apart before this year saw the release of the quite good Familiars.  The problem with this show was that maybe a little too much of the material drew from the 2014 album and everything was feeling a little bit too safe in the grand scheme of the performance.

Marika Hackman supported and this ended up being the third time that I’ve seen her this year.  Although her stage chit chat remains a little tough to witness at times, Hackman has clearly grown in confidence over the last seven months from when I first saw her.  Even nursing a little bit of a cold which saw her using any opportunity she could to have a small coughing fit didn’t stop the songs from sounding better than ever.  The front half of the crowd certainly appeared engrossed in her performance and gave her a respectful applause as she made her way off the stage following the completion of her set.  Marika is going on her own solo tour over the next couple of weeks and it’ll be interesting to see how she tackles her debut album’s release next year.

The Ritz was pretty quiet for when The Antlers took to the stage.  The balcony was closed and it was extremely easy to navigate through the crowd, including the front couple of rows.  In keeping with Halloween, Darby Cicci took to his keys wearing a Jason Voorhees mask only removing it so that he could play the trumpet during the second show of the night, ‘Doppleganger’.  ‘Kettering’ was awesome, every note and every word was crystal clear and the whole experience just sounded astounding.  Sadly, the show was just screaming out for a song with a little life in it to be played, something like ‘Parentheses’ or ‘Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out’ from the Burst Apart LP or ‘Two’ from Hospice, all of which were ignored.  ‘I Don’t Want Love’ was a nice change of pace for one track, but sadly it was a rarity during the course of the evening.  After ‘Putting The Dog To Sleep’ closed the set, the band saved ‘Epilogue’ for the encore which again, sounded great but it wasn’t until the last couple of minutes that something truly interesting came of it.

So yes, the show sounded lovely but there was very little else to shout about.  The Antlers have a back catalogue that is strong enough for them to mix the set up a bit, however on this occasion the theme appeared to be that the band didn’t want to push themselves to hard.  It was by no means a bad show, the band re-created the tracks extremely well and it was extremely enjoyable to listen to, it just wasn’t enjoyable to stand and watch for over ninety minutes.  Having seen the group before I know that they’re capable of putting on an interesting show and hopefully when they next visit Manchester they’ll be in that mind frame.