LIVE REVIEW: Don Broco @ O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester (01/02/2019)

Credit: Sofee Bryan

Date: February 1st 2019
Venue: O2 Victoria Warehouse, Manchester
Support: Issues / Neck Deep


Bedford boys Don Broco had one hell of a year in 2018, didn’t they? Upon the release of their third album ‘Technology’, which itself carried an ambitious 16 tracks, the band have continued to climb line-ups, the charts, and even venue sizes, as is evident with tonight – the first of two sold out headline sets at Manchester’s O2 Victoria Warehouse.

R&Bcore pioneers Issues [6] are up first, and it’s their first time over on UK shores for nearly two years, and their first since the departure of former co-vocalist, Michael Bohn. Now the unclean vocals are shared and handled by frontman Tyler Carter, bassist Skyler Acord, and guitarist Adrian Rebollo. It’s a fresh dynamic and approach for the four-piece, and they’ve got it locked down.

Tracks like ‘Slow Me Down’ and ‘Life Of A Nine’ still pack one hell of a punch, the latter in particular thanks to the groove provided by Acord and drummer Josh Manuel. ‘Coma’ certainly proves that Carter‘s pipes are still impeccable, and closer ‘Mad At Myself’ is still an absolute bop, but the band as a whole seem a little lethargic and disinterested. Maybe it’s jet lag, or even just an off day, because they’re definitely capable of being more captivating than this.

Once British underground pop-punk champions turned a member of the genre elite, Neck Deep [7] are undoubtedly for many here the main attraction point of this touring bill, and right from the get go the room is in the palm of their hands. Now a four-piece for the time being following bassist Fil Thorpe-Evans‘ departure last year, there’s still plenty of bite in cuts like ‘Can’t Kick Up the Roots’.

‘December’ takes things down a bit more of an emotional route, and it’s the first time that we get to truly hear Hannah Greenwood‘s (of Creeper) contribution to the set through the mix, who is nestled at the side of the stage adding back vocals throughout. Next they throw in their cover of ‘Torn’, for which they bring out a saxophonist for, and the room gets the biggest sing-along of the evening so far with ‘In Bloom’.

Don Broco [8] drummer Matt Donnelly comes out on his own, standing centre stage and silhouetted as he sings the opening and main refrain to ‘Come Out To LA’, and just as the songs bursts into its chorus, so do the remaining three members onto the stage, and from here until the end of the band’s over 20 song strong set, the room is electric.

Of course, cuts from their latest LP ‘Technology’ are what dominate the evening. ‘Stay Ignorant’ injects plenty of bounce, ‘Technology’ and ‘Everybody’ sees the infamous and conniving cowboy from their respective videos make an appearance (the latter having him do its accompanying dance routine), the riffs of ‘Pretty’ sound huge, and ‘Got To Be You’, with its almost Spandau Ballet-esque core and Rob Damiani‘s croons, lowers the energy whilst maintaining the swagger.

Some older cuts also make an impact; the synth-laden ‘Automatic’ and ‘Superlove’ bring an 80s vibe into the mix, and ‘You Wanna Know’ has the whole room in a call-to-arms refrain of its infectious chorus.

The titular track from debut album ‘Priorities’ also makes a surprise appearance, and its cheeky charm still remains intact seven years later, but Don Broco really take it back to the days of yore when they drop their first ever single, ‘Thug Workout’, to celebrate its ten year anniversary.

Admittedly it has lost its gritty bite, mainly due to the screams being stripped out and the smoothed out instrumentation, but the pinnacle comes in set closer ‘T-Shirt Song’, where the room sees the fans whirling their shirts in the air like propellors akin to Skindred‘s trademark Newport Helicopter.

By the time that things close off, the O2 Victoria Warehouse is an oven-like hotbox with sweat dripping from the ceiling and the walls. The aforementioned cowboy turns up again with a microphone in hand, though what he’s saying down it isn’t all that clear. What is clear, though, is that Don Broco could fill venues twice this size in the next year or two, so don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens.