Saturday, 21 December 2019

The Slow Readers Club - Manchester Ritz - 20th December 2019


The Slow Readers Club played their second sell out show at the wonderful Ritz. Stuart Ralston returns to his favourite venue and loved every minute of it.

Greeted by huge cheers and chants from the capacity crowd, Aaron Starkie addresses the audience “Good evening Manchester. You sound in high spirits for 8 o’clock” before brother Kurtis starts the opening riff of On The TV. No sooner has he started and the 1,500 who are here start singing his guitar part with him. The Slow Readers Club have always started their shows with impact and On The TV continues that trend. An anthem that the devotees know and love. It’s interesting to note that later on when Aaron asks who is seeing the band for the first time that the place falls silent. Everyone here is a seasoned Readers fan and each and every song is fully embraced by the crowd.

Old favourite Fool For Your Philosophy follows, continuing the high momentum and energy of the show. Jim Ryan’s bass lines truly stand out and it dominates the opening of excellent new track The Wait. An ever present in the set this year, it is as commanding and assured as anything else showcased tonight. Whilst it shows progression from last year’s Build A Tower album, all the essential Readers components are there - powerful vocals, synths, some amazing guitar hooks and storming bass all held together by David Whitworth’s powerhouse drumming.  Lost Boys comes next and it has really found favour with fans now, much more than it used to. Kurtis sings lead vocals whilst Aaron and the crowd provide the backing vocals. Lost Boys demonstrates what we’ve always known - The Slow Readers Club were penning classics from the outset and Lost Boys has possibly elevated itself to being the key track of the self titled debut.


Supernatural sees the biggest singalong of the night so far and the band are on fire. Lives Never Known benefits from Aaron’s keyboards before the majestic Never Said I Was The Only One takes over.  On first listen, it was one of the best tracks from the third album. Now though, for me, it is even more enduringly beautiful. It shows that the band are able to tone it down and not simply rely on the big tunes. Days Like This Will Break Your Heart further demonstrates that point. My favourite Readers song makes its first appearance on the tour. The gentlest song in the set with incredible vocals from Aaron. I’m sure I’ve said this before but if I had to play just one song to someone who’d never heard the band before, then Days Like This Will Break Your Heart would always be my choice. Gracing the b-side of the bands only ever 7” single, I could listen to it all day.

The songs from Cavalcade continue and a super charged Start Again follows. It’s as commanding and powerful as ever. The big songs keep coming and Grace of God sees arguably Aaron’s best vocal of the night. The seldom played Follow Me Down slows the tempo down a little and is a welcome addition to the set.

You Opened Up My Heart sounds stunning in this beautiful old venue. Almost six years ago to the day, on a cold Sunday evening, we made our way over to Stockport’s delightful Blue Cat Cafe to see The Slow Readers Club open for Riding The Low. We knew then that the band were destined to fill venues like this. As much I as loved the Apollo gig last December, the more intimate Ritz for me tops that performance. Don’t get me wrong, the Apollo was special but tonight’s set choices, atmosphere and surroundings take it to another level.


The second new song of the evening Problem Child sounds great on a first listen and it looks like album four will be something special to look forward to next year.

There’s no let ups at all in the set. The ending is just as big as the beginning. Distant Memory is another highlight and again The Ritz feels like the perfect venue to play such songs. Forever In Your Debt sounds as fresh as ever and sees the whole crowd dance and sing along. There’s time for a jubilant Lunatic and with that, the band leave the stage to massive cheers. Tonight’s show was perfect. Thanks must be given to producer and sound man Phil Bulleyment who manned the desk again tonight.

The Slow Readers Club played On The TV, Fool For Your Philosophy, The Wait, Lost Boys, Supernatural, Lives Never Known, Never Said I Was The Only One, Days Like This Will Break Your Heart, Start Again, I Saw A Ghost, Grace of God, Follow Me Down, You Opened Up My Heart, Plant The Seed, Problem Child, Block Out The Sun, Distant Memory, Feet On Fire, Forever In Your Debt and Lunatic.

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