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Live: Manchester Orchestra at Revolution, November 21

Manchester Orchestra
With White Denim, the Dear Hunter
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale
Monday, November 21, 2011

Better than: the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra gives its fans exactly what they want. They just give them too much of it.

The band began its Monday-night show at Revolution by launching into "Pride" and "April Fool" -- a decidedly hang-banging combination for a band with such tender songwriting. The audience flew into a happy riot, and as the frenzy intensified, lead singer Andy Hull interrupted himself to muse, "You know, the one thing that's interesting about a Manchester Orchestra audience... there are some dipshits."

Hull looked into the middle of the all-ages audience, where a mosh pit

had bloomed during the previous song, "My Friend Marcus." Looking at the

moshers, Hull said, "There are small girls who get hurt by your dumb


That may be, but in the moshers' defense, there is

something about the slow tempo of Manchester Orchestra's verses and how

they invariably set up a roaring bridge and chorus: This is mosh bait.

Small girls should keep their heads on a swivel.

For the sake of

its diminutive female fans -- but mostly for this band's prodigious

talent -- Manchester Orchestra would do well to diversify its musical

Because the band has a charismatic lead singer who crafts catchy lyrics and has a distinctive voice -- precious commodities all.

This, combined with Hull's bushy beard, brings to mind Jim James of My

Morning Jacket. Except the band's formulaic sound structure is more My

Chemical Romance.

Hull's youth -- the 25-year-old has been performing since he was 18 --

leaves you wondering whether his early success has made him

less inclined to explore new musical territory or less willing to inject a dash of humor

into lyrics that over the course of an 18-song set accumulate lots of


To be sure, no one in the nearly packed Manchester Orchestra crowd was complaining. It was a blistering performance. But by the show's second half, even this young, devoted audience had become fairly exhausted -- overstimulated by those huge riffs and screaming refrains that followed the relatively methodical verses. If you give the kids candy, they'll be hyper, but a sugar crash is bound to follow.

Critic's Notebook

Random notebook dump: This critic loves Manchester Orchestra's policy on encores: "We're in this weird stage where we're anti-encore," said Hull, after about 14 songs. "And so we're going to play four more songs, and then we're just going to go." Which is exactly what they did, letting the curtain fall after their last song, ignoring the crowd's chant for "One! More! Song!"

The crowd:
Mostly in their early 20s, and given the economy these youngsters inherited, who can blame them for finding a kindred soul in the sensitive but royally pissed-off Hull?

Personal bias:
The Austin-based opening act, White Denim, owns a gorgeous song, "Street Joy," that was barely discernible over the incessant chattering of the Manchester partisans. Which is a shame, because this could have been the highlight of the entire show.

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Thomas Francis

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