Lower Than Atlantis have quickly become one of those bands you just can’t escape since the release of their self-titled fourth album. After cementing that success with a deluxe reissue, their recent UK tour can’t be seen as anything other than a victory lap.
Opening tonight’s Manchester show are Black Foxxes . Their own brand of emo shown in the likes of Home and River carry extremely well, especially singer Mark Holley’s soaring vocal. But they sadly don’t make much of a crowd impact due to speaking to the crowd twice and the buzz of conversation eventually builds up throughout their set. Things end on a sour note with Holley announcing “Manchester, it’s okay to smile” before flouncing offstage, but musically it’s a strong set.
Rising stars Moose Blood  follow, and fare much better. Eddy Brewerton’s humbleness is as charming as ever, and the strength of Gum, Bukowski and Boston earn a lot of nodding heads and more than a lot of singalongs. It may be the exact same set they play at every show, but for anyone who’s seen the four-piece before it’s reassuringly familiar, while being a great introduction for the plenty of fans they’ve earned tonight.
There are deafening screams as As It Is  take to the stage. As they launch into Cheap Shots And Setbacks, half the crowd are rushing forward and off their feet, lapping up Patty Walters’ beckons and encouragement for more. Mr Walters’ own performance is an amalgamation of every pop punk cliché you can think of – scissor jumps, twirling his microphone wire like a baton, and an over-saccharine American singing voice. But it works, and co-vocalist Ben Biss brings it all back to sanity, resulting in the most energetic, happy set so far.
But by the time Lower Than Atlantis  play the first notes of Get Over It, it’s more than clear they risen to the occasion their success has given them. They’re hidden behind a huge curtain so just shadows can be seen, but from the moment it drops to reveal Mike, Ben, Eddy and Dec, it sparks an electricity in the crowd that doesn’t go away for the next hour and a half. The vast majority of the set is cuts from the aforementioned self-titled album (which frontman Mike admits with a shrug), but from the reception, you’d be mistaken for thinking they were classics already. Emily and Ain’t No Friend sound gigantic, while the singalong to main set closer Words Don’t Come So Easily could probably have taken the roof off the Ritz.
As for the band themselves, it’s clear to see why they’ve had such success. The talent of the four guys, particularly drummer Eddy Thrower, radiates through the room from the word go. The confidence of guitarist Ben Sansom and, of course, king of banter Mike Duce balances perfectly with bassist Dec Hart’s ‘can’t-quite-believe-this’ grin plastered on his face throughout, and each member’s personality shining through the music makes the whole thing seem like mates who haven’t seen each other in a long time coming together.
Every song played tonight sounds as strong as the others, be it World Record-era (Motor) Way Of Life or newer fan favourite Stays The Same. But the absence of much other than Lower Than Atlantis tracks marks the start of something new for Lower Than Atlantis. As Mike put it tonight, “we’re just some lads playing some songs, there’s no gimmicks or dance routines”. And they don’t need them. They’re on the up and up, completely gimmick free.
Words by Georgia Jackson