Whether it’s the fact that Eugene McGuinness is opening for a former bandmate of his, or that he is genuinely that confident every time he bounds on stage (a vision of 60’s Merseyside), he doesn’t have that ‘grateful to be here’ look you see so often with support acts. The band sounds like you would expect people who have shared a stage (and probably several musical influences) with Miles Kane to sound; a bit like The Last Shadow Puppets. Big, indie chords with twanging 60’s riffs threaded through it. However, accusing finger pointing and cries of lack of originality should not be unleashed. The songs lean towards a different side of this style. It is more ‘poppy’ in places – pop from several different decades. The most obvious being the 60’s, but there are also flavours of 80’s-style melodies and early drum machine-like hi-hat and snare. The choruses are aching to be sung back by the audience and anthemic melodies are consistently churned out.
The Merseybeat-ish feel is mixed with a nod, and then a big high-five, to Manchester; first with ‘Liam’ poses at the mic aplenty and then an energetic cover of Ian Brown’s ‘If Dolphins Were Monkeys’. McGuinness controls the stage and his band supports him well, but there is the vague feeling that the two are operating separately – it doesn’t blend completely. It needs more of an edge, a bit of that raw taste that the best bands have but unfortunately, until the last couple of songs, that is slightly lacking.
They finish with current single and BBC 6Music favourite, ‘Shotgun’. The crowd know it and it pulls them into the early stages of frenzy. Overall, it’s the sort of support that makes you think ‘if the help are that good, what’s the main event going to be like?!’
Miles Kane struts on a beat behind his band and, looking like Paul McCartney’s evil twin, invites the crowd to “COME ON!” They ravenously accept. He is up for it and his public (who by this point are packed nose-to-scalp) clearly are too.
I wasn’t expecting Kane to be the Ashcroft-Jagger hybrid that he is on stage. He doesn’t just play his guitar, he wields it. It becomes a machine to soak audience members in reverberating chords doused in tremolo and hit them between the eyes with piercing lead lines. It is engrossing, not just Kane’s stage presence and show boating, but the music itself is engrossing. Accompanying the big guitars (Kane’s and rhythm player George Moran’s), Ben Parsons sits in his nest of keyboards and laptops dishing out a whole world of sounds and lifting some parts with rising trumpet blasts – all, of course, held up by a swaggering rhythm section; drummer Jay Sharrock (sitting high above his kit like a less mental Keith Moon) and bassist Phill Anderson.
Kane is relentless. This is one of those acts that don’t allow their crowd to have a second to calm down – even during the more subdued tunes he steps to the edge of the stage and has the lyrics recited to him from a room full of people all happily feeding from his hand. Again, I am struck by how much he reminds me of Richard Ashcroft – it’s like he’s shaking you by the shoulder every two minutes to make sure you aren’t paying any attention to anything else. It works. The sea of human bodies washes from side to side on the floor, every one of them hanging on the perpetual movements of Kane and his guitar. The backlights dim, the dry ice clears and we’re off again. The tempo goes up through the gears, the crowd surfing starts and the floor is a mass of bouncing bodies – the more standard jumping around duties having been delegated to the upper tier of the building.
The set closes in a downpour of red lighting, dry ice and feedback before the inevitable encore begins. The energy is still all there, and this little, rehearsed bonus ball is gulped down by the crowd – culminating in a mass “Ah-ah-ah-aaaaah-ah, Woah, oh-ah-oh-ah-oh” sing-along to final song of the night ‘Come Closer’, during which, the overzealous frontman narrowly avoids being swallowed by the masses.
Miles Kane and his band emerge triumphant; the audience emerge sweaty and grinning and, based on this performance, the only thing that could stop you seeing more of him would be if an asteroid destroyed the music industry. No, not very likely is it…?