Of all of the venues in the world, the food court in Manchester’s Trafford Centre is probably one of the last you would expect to see Don Broco  play. But last week the quartet took to the small stage of the cruise ship-themed Orient in partnership with New Look Men in honour of their new store opening that same day. They were faced with a very different situation compared to packed-out Academies, playing to a couple of rows of fans (present solely due to last minute social media advertising) and a few hundred shoppers stopping for a bite to eat, more than likely unaware that a band was even going to be playing.
Although it’s an incredibly short set (made up of only four songs), Broco manage to play right into the hands of every fan there to see them, more than helped by the fact that almost every standing audience member can touch the barrier making the whole thing seem intimate, strange in such a cavernous room. However, it’s how they handle the rest of the mostly nonchalant crowd that’s truly impressive. The band, especially singer Rob Damiani, use their laddish charm to intrigue at least some of the diners. So much so, in fact, that one or two groups of people join the standing crowd when they have finished eating. There are no cheesy commands for everyone to clap or sing along; the music is the focal point.
And the music is what makes this half-hour seem so much like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The four songs – Superlove, Automatic, Beautiful Morning and Nerve – have been recomposed to sound lighter and more like a background band, but all sound undeniably special. The slight grittiness to Beautiful Morning’s guitar line is gone, and all of the Automatic offerings sound softer than on record. It’s a perfect way to reel in a crowd who are largely uninterested and is done fantastically. The only real disappointment is the lack of energy – the quartet remain mostly fixed on the spot like actual cruise ship singers. This is hardly their fault, mind, as the stage is rather cramped, but it still sadly feels like something’s missing.
This set is probably rather controversial for most Don Broco fans (there are some jokey heckles for Thug Workout to be played as they are leaving the stage) as no huge hits, primarily the Priorities album have been aired. But given what they had to work with, it is probably the optimum setlist for drawing in some more attention. And for fans, it has been a unique experience to see the guys in such a bizarre setting. Plus, it can’t be ignored that Nerve sounds absolutely huge live, while Superlove and Automatic could help them become absolutely massive in terms of rock and pop. It’s a truly likeable set garnished by Damiani’s hilarious comments on the restaurants present, and musically only highlights their elasticity and irrefutable star quality. If Don Broco can keep the Trafford Centre food court in the palm of their hand, where can’t they play?
Words by Georgia Jackson