On Wednesday night (3rd), The Magic Gang stopped off at Liverpool half-way through a big nationwide tour in support of their self-titled debut album. The Brighton boys’ Liverpool date saw them headline the O2 Academy with both Sports Team and The Orielles opening.
London-based indie six-piece Sports Team were first up. They played an impressive set of their energetic tunes with quirky lyrics including ‘Kutcher‘ and ‘Margate‘. The band, who met while studying at Cambridge University, are hot property at the moment. The Guardian named them as the one of a number of British bands leading an ‘indie revival’ earlier this year, and they headlined the BBC Introducing stage and Reading and Leeds Festivals in August.
The second support act of the night, The Orielles, were next to play. At a glance of the set list, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a short one, but the majority of the Halifax band’s repertoire surpasses the 5 minute mark. Melodic indie pop blends into all-out shoegaze and jamming sessions. The trio gave Sports Team a run for their money with their energy on stage and almost equally random lyrical content.
The largest room of Liverpool’s O2 Academy had been almost full to the brim long before The Magic Gang took to the stage. By the time they did, the anticipation that had built resulted in a lovely shower of warm beer for the poor loyal fans who had got there early to save their spot at the barrier.
2015 single ‘Alright‘ was the opener. It clearly went down well, with a huge circle pit forming at the opening chords. Unfortunately, (in my opinion anyway) it was one of only a few songs from the back catalogue that made an appearance on the set list, which was dominated by tracks from the album.
The mosh pits were relentless throughout. In terms of energy anyway – it was actually the tamest mosh pit I’ve ever witnessed for one of that size. Although, it was a young crowd so I’ll let them off.
There were a couple of calmer moments such as ‘Take Care‘ where bassist Angus took the lead on vocals and swapped his bass for a keyboard. Guitarist Kristian also took the lead on another stripped back track: ‘I’ll Show You‘.
The Magic Gang are a very rare breed in the indie genre in that they can have three different band members take lead vocals on a song and deliver genuinely impressive harmonies. Sure, most bassists can do backing vocals but not many will sit at a keyboard in the middle of a spotlight and sing a sad song about a rough break-up.
Thanking the Liverpool crowd, frontman Jack announced they had 3 songs left to play. With that, they played ‘Your Love‘, ‘How Can I Compete‘ and ‘Getting Along‘ and swiftly disappeared.
The chants of ‘one more song’ didn’t take long to begin. I already knew the encore was going to happen as two extra songs had been listed on every set list for the first half of the door. It seemed everyone else was in the know too as there was absolutely no sign of movement towards the exit. Even the most excitable members of the audience seemed to grow impatient of waiting and the famous Jeremy Corbyn chant broke out – a popular one on Merseyside.
Soon, sure enough, the guitars were being plugged back in and The Magic Gang were back on stage with cold beer in hand. I think I’ve made my opinion on encores clear enough but that’s a debate for another time.
The slow and serene ‘Life Without You‘ flew straight into the slightly more chirpy ‘All That I Want Is You‘ – another pre-2015 track that I’d been crying out for. The young crowd used every last bit of their remaining energy (and sweat) in the last chorus and more than a few ended up on the hard floor amongst the crushed plastic cups and sticky Doc Martens.
My love for The Magic Gang of 2015 stems from fond memories of a gig at Studio 2 on Parr Street where the boys played to 40-odd people including the one and only Blossoms who had just got done recording their debut album.
Despite my complaints about the set list, I can appreciate that this tour was to promote The Magic Gang’s recent album and a lot of fans there would have came for the album material. The Magic Gang’s individual musical ability is impressive and their knack of writing great indie pop songs and transferring them to a live setting so effortlessly is perhaps even more impressive.
All This Way
I’ll Show You
How Can I Compete
Life Without You
All That I Want Is You