Gig Review + Photography by Frank Ralph

It felt a bit special at the O2 Ritz with it being the opening night of the return of Tonight Alive, and there was certainly a buzz in the air.

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In support of their latest album Underworld they had chosen to kick things of in Manchester and overall the show was outstanding… however opening nights tend to have their problems.

For Brighton’s The Gospel Youth that was a slightly muddy sound that muffled some of the impact of their songs, and a drummer who in the first few songs may have slipped in and out of time more often than Doc Brown. But that sorted itself out quickly and their set impressed me.

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For ROAM it felt a bit more like they weren’t fully up to speed yet and were almost going through the motions. Their set felt a bit flat. 

Maybe that was just a first night of the tour thing, but whereas I’d happily go home and ask Alexa to play me some Gospel Youth and give them a more in depth listen I don’t feel I ever need to see or hear ROAM ever again.

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The 80’s classic rock that came on the PA between them and Tonight Alive proved to get the crowd going more than anything else, with Toto’s Africa and Def Leppard’s Pour Some Sugar on Me in particular really getting the crowd revved up for what was to follow.

Tonight Alive however suffer no first night nerves, jitters or anything negative at all as they bound on stage. Even if there weren’t a thousand bulbs lighting up the stage Jenna McDougall’s smile would do the job itself. Her positivity and uplifting spirit fills the room even before her voice does.

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With a set consisting of ‘some old stuff and some new stuff’ they connect with the whole audience.

Genuinely, I’ve been to thousands of shows, but their mid-set acoustic version of Oxygen is probably one of THE most touching and emotional moments I’ve ever witnessed at a gig. Such a beautiful moment in the middle of such a great set.

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The singalongs to How Does It Feel and World Away were incredible and the musicality of the band is beyond question. Matt Best’s back beat and the guitars of Jack Hardy and Cam Adler were so strong and had most of the crowd bouncing all night.

Bringing the sunshine vibes of Australia to Manchester on a cold Tuesday night was a bit of what the doctor ordered after the mental weather Russia sent us. As Jenna stated at the beginning of Tonight Alive’s set their job was to send everybody home liberated and full of positivity to share out with the world.

I reckon they succeeded. I certainly left feeling uplifted.

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See the complete photoset here.

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