From the 3rd to the 7th March, Jaws went on a mini tour as an add-on to 2014’s Be Slowly Tour, playing 4 dates in Norwich, London, Manchester and Birmingham. This completely sold-out tour was hotly anticipated following the release of their hugely success debut album Be Slowly and the coinciding tour last September. Despite the brilliantly lively show they played at the Manchester Deaf Institute on the 22nd September, the final night of the tour at the Birmingham Institute was expected to be the highlight show- the hometown show of course. But when Jaws took to the Academy 3, just few hundred metres along Manchester’s Oxford Road from the Deaf Institute, they set the bar high for the hometown show.
Buzzing Jaws fans were queuing outside the student union building way before the doors opened. When they did, they quickly rushed up the stairs to the third floor, eager to get as close to the stage as possible. The bar looked eerily quiet due to the largely teenage audience. The sell-out crowd didn’t have to wait long for the first support act, one hotly tipped to make it big in the future, Manchester band Spring King. They seemed very happy to be there and were full of thanks to Jaws for the support slot. The four-piece impressed the audience with an energetic performance of a number of brilliant garage rock tracks, including the stand-out Can I?.
The second support act were quirky Londoners, Happyness. They succeeded in mesmerising an extremely hyped audience for 30 minutes with their alternative rock and slow pop jams, playing a number of tracks from their debut album Weird Little Birthday. We’ll never know whether the crowd of ecstatic adolescents appreciated the intelligence of Happyness’ music. Nevertheless, they were kept well entertained for half an hour while they waited for the headliners of the night.
Despite the two brilliant support acts, the audience seemed more excited to hear Jay Z and Kanye West hit Paris playing over the venue sound system. It got cranked to full volume and the stage lighting suddenly awoke. The audience were almost too busy bouncing and shouting lyrics to notice Jaws strolling out onto the stage and picking up their instruments. The crowd barely had a chance to scream before the band started playing shimmering summer tune Surround You. Jaws certainly got a warm welcome from the Manchester crowd on a chilly Friday night.
The audience continued with, what can only be described as going mental, when the Brummie boys gave the fans what they wanted with favourites from their debut album Be Slowly such as Swim, Think Too Much Feel Too Little and album namesake Be Slowly. There was a lot of questionable attempts at crowd surfing and a oddly large number of multicoloured balloons floating around the room.
Jaws treated fans to a handful of classics from 2013 including Breeze, Stay in and Donut. Which received a great reception, with the mosh pit engulfing most of the room and sucking people in. A group of teenage boys right in the centre of the crowd, at some point in every song, pushed people back to leave an empty circle in the middle of the packed room. Which encouraged everyone to dive into the empty space, subsequently diving into each other.
The crowd hadn’t stood still for a very long time and there was a slight scent of sweat in the air when frontman Connor made an announcement. He told the Academy 3 that they were about to play a few new songs they’ve been working on recently. ‘Manchester exclusive’ he muttered into the mic before the first new track. This Mancunian audience were certainly one who deserved to be the first to hear some new material. The new tracks sounded a lot more heavy than the music this band has produced in the past. Possibly the route they may choose to go down for their second album. They were alternative rock songs in essence- a world away from their usual infectious, feel-good indie anthems.The new tracks sounded great. But it was a risky move to debut such different music in front of a sell-out crowd of ecstatic teenagers so in love with the band’s current sound. However, the tracks received enthusiastic cheers and their fans remained totally enthralled.
Jaws closed the show on the usual finale, a fan favourite, Gold. The boys gave it their all and the crowd were loving it. Hoards of fans pushed forward to the barrier, taking their last chance to get as close to the band as possible. At the end of the song, Connor and co thanked the audience for coming to see them and threw their drum sticks, plecs and set list down to the front of the crowd, with hands frantically scrambling for souvenirs.
They quickly disappeared, followed by chants demanding an encore that lasted at least a minute, but were to no avail. However, the Birmingham lads were back 10 minutes later, after most of the venue had emptied out onto a busy Oxford Road. Their loyal fan base were rewarded for hanging around when the band returned to chat with fans, sign merchandise and take selfies. Which is always nice to see as bands get more popular and play at bigger venues. The door staff handed tickets back to exhausted teenagers as they left the Manchester Academy. The souvenirs were unashamedly snatched at and I doubt a single one was left.
It had been a draining yet fantastic gig. Jaws were almost as full of energy as their adoring teenage fans and they really gave the audience what they wanted- delivering all the singles, the best of the massively successful debut album Be Slowly and even some previously unheard tracks. Their hotly anticipated return to Manchester did not disappoint and their mancunian fan base will be hoping they come back soon. Everyone who attended the show could now go home, slump into bed and nurse their ringing ears. But Jaws were heading to Birmingham for the final date of the March tour, the hometown show at The Institute.