"Nerdy Melancholic euphoria" - SPECTOR live @ O2 Ritz, Manchester
London Indie outfit Spector stamped their name across indie anthem playlists back in 2012 when their debut album saw tracks like 'Chevy Thunder' and 'Celestine' catch fire. Now, 10 years on, they have just released their 4th album 'Now or Whenever' which perhaps their most cohesive and accomplished to date, blending the big Indie riffs of their first record with the electronic exploration of their subsequent releases. I caught up with their lead singer Fred this week to talk about their best ever lyrics (read the interview) but nothing tells the story of where a band is at than their live performance. So, I headed down to their Manchester show last night to catch them in action.
Opening with the first track off their new album 'Catch You On The Way Back In' sparked an instant high-tempo buzz across the room. The Vaccines esc rapid fire guitar line matched by the pounding bass drum is a combination pretty much guaranteed to get the crowd moving and it worked a treat. They then followed it up with a stream of energetic fan favourites 'Twenty Nothing', 'Untitled in D', 'I Won't Wait' and 'Do You Wanna Drive' which left everyone fired up and out breath after the relentless first third of the set.
They then dived into the more melancholic corners of their discography with 'Bad Boyfriend' and it was these kinds of tracks that really showcased their quality. Vocally, Fred switched from deep melancholia to hopeful passion and the big sing-a-long chorus with ease. Meanwhile, the band transitioned from the low key electro soundscape to the euphoric chorus with full control over the mood of the room. It was this command of atmosphere that was so impressive, as if they could flick a switch and transform the entire feeling of the crowd in an instant.
Fred also did stunningly well to dissolve the barrier between audience and performer given the size of the venue. Throughout the night he would take time to read notes written from the crowd or pause for a tangent about keys and octaves. These interactions allowed one of the most 'don't try this at home' moments you are likely to see at any music event...after Fred has mopped up a spillage with Kleenex he handed it over to a member of the audience who squeezed that liquid straight into his mouth far too keenly! Of course they would also occasionally slip in a self deprecating joke in true Spector fashion such as apologizing that 'Wild Guess' doesn't drop and adding that it is their one song that isn't the exact same structure. He certainly has one of the most unique personas out there, blending an awkward nerdiness with a rock star showmanship that makes him simultaneously down to earth and a memorable performer.
The night closed with a double barrel assault of 'Chevy Thunder' and 'All The Sad Young Men', probably one of the best two-track finales to a set you will see from an Indie act. The first of the two saw Fred get wildly passed around while he crowdsurfed along to the rolling anthem. In fact, he was so swarmed by the masses that he struggled to get back on stage in time for the last track. 'All The Sad Young Men' has to be their most impressive track, and the live rendition more than did it justice. It sums up the brilliance of Spector as a band, capturing unfiltered melancholic snapshots of our lives and churning them through a euphoric sonic machine. Repeatedly shouting out the words "all the sad young men" doesn't sound like the most joyous thing in the world but with the full force of community among the crowd offering a poignant end to a high-energy evening it turned out to be just that.