LIVE REVIEW: Don Broco @ The Ritz, Manchester – 11th December 2015

As massive as Don Broco have gotten (and are still getting), there’s something about them that still remains an enigma. There are actually no bands in recent memory who have toed the line between alternative and mainstream culture as well as them; there can’t be many, if any, other bands that have played Download, Reading & Leeds and the like, as well as appearing on renowned plastic parade Made In Chelsea and having their music videos styled by New Look. It certainly explains the noticeable step up on venue size for this tour, their biggest and potentially most game-changing to date.

The eclectic undercard follows suit as well. Symmetry [7] kick off with half an hour of perky, plucky pop-rock, and while they mightn’t be breaking the mould by any stretch, the likes of Fast Lane and a surprisingly competent rendition of Katy Perry’s Roar are endearing all the same.

 Arcane Roots [8] follow, and subsequently kick things up a few gears. Their hardcore-tinged prog is by far the heaviest thing on tonight, but their sprawling, complex masterclasses are by no means lost on the crowd. The crescendoing Leaving and the crushing If Nothing Breaks, Nothing Moves combine equal parts beauty and brutality for something pretty special, and Andy Groves’ somersaulting vocals show just how much of a reality success for this band is.

By comparison, Coasts [5] take an absolute nosedive. Closing with hit single Oceans ensures that not everything is lost, but its half-hour prelude of near-identikit tropical indie is hardly inspiring, floating passively by and making next to no impact whatsoever. Put next to what preceded them and that hardly helps their cause at all.

That Don Broco [9]‘s sound contains elements of all these three bands might explain one part of their huge popularity, but in reality, it all boils down to one key factor – the universal language of a bloody great song. And with second album Automatic finally out, they’ve doubled their quota, meaning that they can tackle an hour and a quarter set with nothing but absolute bangers. Whereas the much-belated end of the Priorities cycle saw them rapidly running out of steam, the inclusion of new material has re-energised them by a huge degree, and it makes so much difference. Kicking off with I Got Sick is a novel way of introducing their new material, but an effective one. It shows just how much the slickness and pure irresistibility of the likes of Automatic and Superlove are mirrored in the live environment.

It also seems to give older material a bit more of a kick as well. These are songs that have been played many, many times before, but they still feel fresh when placed alongside newer cuts. Hold On feels smoother and punchier than it has in quite a while, while Priorities, complete with The Walk (it never gets old, does it?) really makes you wonder how it’s possible to write an anthem as absolutely massive as this.

If there’s really any fault to be found, it’s that darting around a career as varied as Don Broco’s means that there’s occasionally a lack of cohesion. For example, the triple threat of Fancy Dress‘s angular wallop, the bawdy lad-metal of Thug Workout and Let You Get Away‘s slithering, new romantic bass have very little in common. But this is really just nitpicking of the highest degree – there’s nothing wrong with any of these songs at all, and as their own separate entities each succeed in their own way. It truly is testament to how versatile Don Broco’s songwriting is, something that very rarely gets credit, with few better examples than Further and Nerve. The former emulates the brash, sweeping yet incredibly personal strokes that are present on its recorded counterpart, while the latter rounds the night off with its circular crash and a chorus that could level a mountain. It’s the sign of a band after much bigger things, and after seeing what they can achieve when firing on all cylinders, there’s no doubt that Don Broco are, not only capable of it, but deserving of it as well.

Words by Luke Nuttall

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