Sunday 12 February 2023

Seb Lowe / The Guest List - Manchester Band On The Wall - 11th February 2023

Seb Lowe continued his seemingly unstoppable rise with a sold-out show at Manchester's Band On The Wall with a mix of tracks from his EPs and singles and an impressive raft of unreleased songs. With a new band line-up giving the songs new life and energy, he captivated a packed out room. Support came from the impressive The Guest List.

Opening the night are The Guest List, a band who’ve made searching for them online a nightmare with their name. Their music though is instantly accessible. While Manchester’s pot of four/five piece young white male bands is in danger of boiling over, The Guest List, live at least, give us something that feels a little more distinctive. Whether it be Cai’s disassociated, almost disinterested, demeanour visually compared to the guitarist to his right who you could mistake for the lost son of Johnny Marr, such is his love of a riff that’s both simple yet hits you head on, or the immediacy of the songs, they stand out.

The room’s already full by the time they take the stage and the reception they get suggests they’ve already taken those first difficult steps of building a fan base beyond their friends and the perennial professional Manchester gig-goers that some bands never actually achieve. All four songs from their debut EP feature and really come alive in the flesh. Three new songs 161, Pile On and Morning suggest they’ve got more in their locker too. Definitely a band warranting further investigation.

Seb Lowe has been around the scene a couple of years now since his Tiktok video to Iphone ratcheted up interest in his poetry converted to music. He’s sold out Gorilla and Band On The Wall here tonight and supported the likes of James and Blossoms. There’s a real buzz of anticipation as he and his band take to the stage and for fifty minutes he has five hundred people hanging on his every word and the front row demanding selfies, which would be an anathema to many, but which the world-savvy Seb obliges to.

Tonight’s show feels like a turning point, like when Blossoms sold out Club Academy, and the momentum started to feel unstoppable. With a new violinist, Kate, having joined the band and taking a central role, the older songs feel invigorated by the drama that strings bring to rock music, punctuating the drums and guitar. Songs that don’t lend themselves to that have gone and replaced by new ones like Generation Suicide, Cavalry Man and Killer For A Day and those that remain feel bigger and bolder out of necessity to survive. Freak is stripped down to just Seb and Kate and their interaction works really well. At this rate of progression even Iphone will be under threat, having been moved from the end of the set already.

Societal and political comment sits at the heart of many of Seb’s songs. Opener Kill Him He’s A Socialist takes aim at the fearmongering against those wanting a more equal society and the way media portay them. Upper Class takes aim at those who look down their nose at those less well off, while Seb jokes at the end that he’s grown his hair since he referred to a “long haired Tory”. Generation Suicide talks to the abandonment of youth and the pressure that places on mental health. 

Most impressive and potent of all is Terms And Conditions, a damning condemnation of modern society, which finishes the set. A song that addresses the way joy has been drained from everything and hate has become the prevailing message everyone is taught irrespective of beliefs, it’s become a multi-headed beast culminating in a mock speech and a violent flurry of drums that suggest experimentation with songs that artists this early in their career shy away from. 

In a world where artists shy away from addressing the fucked up state of the planet and humanity, it’s refreshing to listen to someone taking it on with such articulate observation and commentary and making connections with an audience. Musically the development of the band has accelerated rapidly. What the industry that focuses on the dispensible, pliable and easy to sell make of him will be fascinating to see.

Seb Lowe is on FacebookTwitter and Tik Tok. He plays Stalybridge Zeroes tonight (September 30).

The Guest List are on Instagram. They play Manchester Night And Day on March 2.


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