Baxter Dury bares all in new video for ‘Prince Of Tears’

It’s no word of a lie that I’ve been listening to ‘Prince Of Tears’, the new record from Baxter Dury, on a daily basis for the past few weeks. Variety, intrigue and it’s all wrapped up in half an hour. Diamond.

I’m not the only one. Prince Of Tears has shot up the charts since its release, holding the No. 1 spot in the Official Record Store Charts the other week. Featuring the vocal stylings of Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson on the brilliant ‘Almond Milk’ and a song of the year contender in the poetic ‘Oi’, the fifth album from the son of British rock leg-end Ian Dury is an utter joy.

The moody, grimacing video for Prince Of Tears was released this weekcapturing the record in all its glory – well, not glory… That final moment on the floor is the only solace our ‘Prince of Tears’ can garner from everything that’s come before him.

Watch the new video for Prince Of Tears below and catch Baxter Dury across the country early next year – dates here:

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Live Review: Thundercat at The Albert Hall in Manchester 15 November 2017

We came for the wigouts and workouts. We were not disappointed.

Not content with creating an album of the year to go with one of the most iconic covers of the past decade, last night saw LA native Thundercat allow the people of Manchester a two hour window in his presence to experience his live show. Thanks, Thundercat.

Arriving on stage at Manchester’s glorious Albert Hall mere moments after his band, Thundercat looked every bit a beautiful glitterball in his sparkly Elton John style jacket, complete with a ludicrous pair of Muay Thai shorts!

‘Rabbot Ho/Captain Stupido’, the one-two punch opener from latest opus ‘Drunk’, is particularly speedy once it gets going, but Thundercat and co put it into daft territories when they utilised its funk-infused power to kick off proceedings. Blasting into a 100mph, chaotic run through of Captain Stupido, this pretty much signalled what would come from their Wednesday evening jaunt in Manchester.

Those aforementioned wigout/workouts took centre stage, with the outro of the latter track bleeding intro ‘Uh Uh’ and sounding like a Zappa soaked marathon in the process. At first I was the under assumption that we’d be hearing Drunk in its entirety, given the opening and subsequent tracks it bled into. In Drunk, we have less an album and more a 20+ song saga, so I would have comfortably lapped up an hour and a half’s worth of just that.

A super-duper funky run through of the first third of the album bought with it many a slacked jaw from those in the pit, with a particular highlight for yours truly coming in the ludicrously catchy ‘A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II)’. The violinist got his own spotlight here, going sick during an extended jam out. A righteous jam both in original and extended wig-out form.

Having immensely enjoyed the facial expressions of the violinist during the recent Thundercat NPR Tiny Desk session, I loved seeing him getting off on what the others were doing during these out of body solos. Back on that Zappa hype, the tones of the keyboard/synth/everything-else-he-could-get-his-hands-on player occasionally verged into dark territories, as Zappa occasionally would do.

Thundercat doesn’t send out much inbetween songs, focusing more on the wall of sound being cooked up on stage. He is jovial as fuck on occasion, particularly after a mad workout session (always greeted by mammoth applause). We got the occasional acknowledgement and in the case of ‘Heartbreaks + Setbacks’, an ode of love for the Mancunian collective. There’s even a hilarious, exclusive little extra verse added to ‘Tokyo’, with Thundercat taking us on a journey into his childhood trip to the dentist.

Similar to how one might have loved to have been a fly on the wall during The Beatles extended trips to Abbey Road for ‘The White Album’, in a live capacity Thundercat is almost inviting the audience into the practice room. Huge spiralling, seemingly improvised long stretches of jamming (most of it real horrorshow) are the order of the day, with everyone riffing off each other and the drummer putting his back right into it.

Toward the end of the set, the room was firmly in the palm of their collective hands during a venue filling rendition of ‘Drink Dat’, the big match feel of ‘Friend Zone’ and of course the incredible ‘Them Changes’, which obviously found its way into the closing moments of the show.

On occasion, the two hours featured a wigout too far. Brilliant at first but verging on too much. In hindsight, I would suggest this could be expected from someone who puts out an album just shy of 30 tracks. Maybe editing is a bit of an issue… Equally, drums and keys sounded far too loud during earlier moments, but maybe that came down to where we were sat. Plus, I suppose that’s the not the end of the world when it comes to the trio backing up Thundercat.
A triumph? I’d say so.

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Live Review: Employed To Serve at Rebellion in Manchester 7 November 2017

Review from Ben Forrester

In terms of the hardcore scene here in the UK, Employed To Serve are definitely this years main success story. They’ve spent the year supporting some extremely upcoming rock acts, including Black Peaks and Milk Teeth, as well as dropping one of the best heavy records of 2017 with second album ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun‘. Their popularity has only blossomed as the year has progressed and it makes sense for them to end it on a headline lap of glory around the UK.

I get down to Manchester’s best new rock venue Rebellion just in time for main support Pijn. It’s also been a pretty good year for the local collective as they’ve spent the year gaining a lot of traction thanks to their beautiful yet brutal debut release ‘Floodlit‘. Although there are three core members in the band, I like how there is a revolving cast of musicians that join them for different shows. Tonight they play as a quintet, with a lap steel player and cellist joining the ranks.

We hear a good chunk of tracks from their recently released live EP ‘Tanzaro House‘, from the bustling bass lead groove on ‘Blush Unseen‘ to the theatrical, Godspeed-esque build of ‘Eyde‘. It’s hard to not get submersed by the bands beguiling blend of doom, post-rock and black metal, each player seemingly fully involved in the part they play, which makes for an enthralling set. At the start of the year I professed Pijn to be one of the country’s most interesting and exciting new progressive acts, and I stay firm on that opinion as I witness tonight’s set.

Employed To Serve don’t mess about and get straight to it, starting off with the first three tracks from the new album. On record these tracks run straight into each other, making for a blisteringly brutal start to the record, so it makes sense that this is the way they open up tonight’s set. From the tech infused mosh rock of ‘Void Ambition‘, straight into the hardcore bite of ‘Good For Nothing‘ that races into the gigantic riff in ‘Platform 89‘, it really is an attack on the senses. The cabs rattle, each band member is either sporting a fully nasty riff face or is covered in hair as they bash around the stage in unison.

As a huge fan of The Warmth Of A Dying Sun, I’m eager to hear as many tunes off it as possible as I think it’s a really well put together record, each track bursting with energy and ideas. Luckily, we get nearly all of it and the band seem keen to show off the different tones of the record. From the super quick grind of ‘Half Life‘ to the epic build of the title track, it’s clear to see that this is a well oiled unit as songwriters and musicians.

It’s also great to hear a few gnarly tunes from their equally awesome debut album ‘Greyer Than You Remember‘. As the record that introduced the band, I go to full head banging mode hearing tracks like ‘Watching Films To Forget I Exist‘, which still sounds as crushing as the day I first heard it.

With it being a gloomy Tuesday evening, tonight’s crowd seem a little quiet in the movement, which does get pointed out by guitarist Sammy throughout the set, although there are a small bunch of highly energised kids who try their best to get the pit moving. I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite ready to get into the pit myself, but with a set this heavy and brutal, it’s hard not to raise your fist and bang your head. Everyone in the room definitely seems transfixed on this thunderous set, especially when they close on the incredibly raging breakdown of ‘I Spend My Days (Wishing Them Away)‘.

In terms of the live show, Employed To Serve have got it down; the tunes are massive and brimming with attitude whilst the band are tight, loud and full of rage. Having been blown away by their records over the past few years, Employed To Serve have lived up to their title of being the most face melting metal live act the UK has to offer right now! Don’t sleep on this band.

Check out our review of ‘The Warmth Of A Dying Sun’ here!

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Phase Two: An interview with Gallops

In April 2013, months on from the release of their debut album Yours Sincerely, Dr. Hardcore’, Welsh experimental rock outfit Gallops announced that they were knocking it on the head. “…as of now Gallops is dead” read the statement posted on social media, with the quartet acknowledging a monumental journey over the preceding six years, but ultimately clarifying that “Music will continue, Gallops will not.” The very first ArcTanGent Festival was amongst a number of cancellations that followed.

In April 2016, nearly three years on from their departure, Gallops announced their return and with it a follow up to their debut album. There was also the important matter of finally making it to ArcTanGent Festival.

Now in its fifth year, ArcTanGent has cemented itself as the mecca for music nerds across the country and beyond, catering to those with a taste for the alternative. Having missed out the first time round, the organisers were giddy as can be to get Gallops back on board, securing them at the festival twice on the bounce in 2016 and 2017. It’s on site at Fernhill Farm, the home of ArcTanGent every year, where I meet up with Gallops, now a three-piece following one departure and a successful recruitment.

A few hours earlier, the trio had played to a mass of people as part of the Thursday early-doors frivolities of the weekend. Apart from a few technical mishaps here and there, Gallops are in good spirits following their set, happy to have received such a positive reaction from the giant crowd.

When we first heard that we were playing at 4 o’clock on Thursday, we were like – 4’oclock on a Thursday?” Says guitarist-cum-noise maker Brad Whyte, noting that it was the assurance of Ben Griffiths (Alpha Male Tea Party) that Thursday is in fact the day of the festival. Especially if you’re one of the artists.
“It seems like Thursday is the sort of hardcore ArcTanGent heads”. Adds Mark Huckridge, man behind the electronics, keyboards, guitar and a mountain of wires.

Last year’s set at the festival actually ended up being their second gig back following their hiatus, a daunting prospect but also a chance to dust off the cobwebs and get stuck back into it.
That was a hell of a gig to do – right ok, we’re back on track.” Laughs Mark. “Again, it was a packed tent and really good vibes… It’s a great festival.”

Outside of ArcTanGent, this year has also seen Gallops appear at a number of festivals dotted throughout the UK and Europe. From Sheffield to France, Leicester to Belgium and everywhere in between. It was in Belgium, at Rock Herk with the likes of Dinosaur Jr and Iceage, where the trio found themselves out in amongst the people on the street, playing the aptly titled ‘Street Stage’.

It was really cool.” Says drummer Liam Edwards, citing Belgium as a particular highlight this year. “It was at the entrance of the festival as well, so anyone that came in had to walk past you playing. People were kind of all the way round you when you were playing as well… It was quite a unique atmosphere for that – bizarre, but really cool.
Passing trade…We were like a service station or something.” Laughs Mark.

With important dates forever falling in the month of April, it was April 21st 2017 that marked the most important date in the calendar of Gallops this year. ‘Bronze Mystic’, the highly anticipated follow up to their debut album Yours Sincerely, Dr Hardcore, was released through Southern label Blood and Biscuits. Having announced their reformation and with the promise of their first new material in four long years, in Bronze Mystic, Gallops seemed to side-step any doubts and instead build on the strong foundations.of their debut full length, whilst pushing the envelope even further.

It definitely feels to me that there’s two phases of Gallops now, since the hiatus.” Says Mark. “There’s still some tracks that we like playing live off that album and there’s some songs that people like and off the first EP… It just feels like a new start. Not that we wanna put all that behind us, but I don’t think we can really compare ‘em. They’re from two different places.
We didn’t actively go out and go – right, it needs to sound different from the last time.” Adds Brad. “I think we’ve grown up, as people, and I think that’s reflected in how the album’s turned out.”

Half a decade was the original life and times of Gallops. Back around their reformation, the band stated that they missed it too much and that “Gallops still has life in it”. When the first phase of Gallops was closed however, it was obviously a completely different story.

Internally, it was one of those things where it just wasn’t working in the state it was in, for various sort of personal reasons.” Admits Mark. “You have to enjoy doing it in order for it to be good. It’s just reflected otherwise… People can tell when you’re doing it for the sake of it. So yeah, when we split up, hiatus or whatever, it was dead sudden as well. Some people were really shocked and surprised – there’s a lot of people that have sort of probably blown it up a bit out of proportion to be honest. We were just in a certain place in our lives and now we’re in a different place in our lives and we’re gunning for it again.”

“It’s fun again, we’re just happy to be doing it.” He continues. “It seems like a lot of people from the first phase have stuck with us as it were, hopefully that’ll continue. We wanna keep pushing it further now.”

Whilst Bronze Mystic may be bringing in the new era of Gallops, the band still seem curious as to where it sits within their lineage. Do they consider the new album their first proper full-length?
In some ways, it feels like it is. That’s an odd one.” Admits Mark. “Not that I don’t like that last record, but I’m certainly a lot prouder of this new one. I feel like it’s a culmination of everything we’ve ever done – and then some. We’ve just got better at doing what we do, I think.”

Back in April of this year, we stated that on Bronze Mystic, their brief time away had done wonders in revitalising Gallops and pushing them to make an album “packed with emotion and energy” that “certainly set the standard for instrumental records this year.” Reception seems to have been universally positive, not just in a critical capacity, but also from the viewpoint of punters going to shows. Mark highlights that people seem to have clocked on to the sound of a band maturing and ‘getting better at doing what they do’.

…That’s how I feel about it as well…” He comments. “It’d be very easy to do a record like that and think that you’d done something more mature and everyone’s like – yeah, it just sounds like your old stuff.
I think the proudest thing for me is how each review that we’ve received on it has recommended a different track off the album…” Adds Brad. “There’s something for everyone, it feels like.”

The band discuss this last point, nothing that certain tracks like ‘Professional Weapon’ and ‘Prince O’ – considered by the band as “real deep cuts” – appear to be generating a lot of good feedback, despite feeling like album tracks during its production.
I’d like to think it’s pulled in some fans that perhaps we didn’t have in phase one Gallops.” Suggests Mark.
“I think we were a little bit worried at first, before releasing it, because it’s so sonically different from the first long player.” Adds Brad. “We were kind of like, are we gonna lose a chunk of our fan base who like our frantic, heavier sound? It’s a bit more softer I think.”

Equally, the band have noticed in feedback that a lot of people they talk to recognise its differences, but feel it’s still recognisable as a Gallops record.
“That’s all I personally wanna do with music.”
Says Mark. “I wanna make music that people know it’s us that do it… All my favourite artists are like that, you can just tell who it is straight away. I think that’s a massive achievement.”

Given their monumental leap from near death and obscurity, phase two Gallops is powering on (much like the beast that is ‘Darkjewel’ from their latest record). Having changed up their sound in their time away, the trio joke that it’s back to basics for Gallops phase three, moving into the world of Skiffle (“I’d only have to bring two spoons – and that’s it!” – Liam). But if that doesn’t work out, there’s belief within the camp of the direction they might be heading.

I can see us probably moving further towards a more electronic direction…” Says Mark. “It seems like a natural progression for us. Not ditching guitars… It feels like where we’re at at the moment, trying to do less traditional guitar music, I guess. Really trying to push the envelope in that way. We’ll see what happens. We said that about the last album, then there’s loads of Top Gun guitar solos… But yeah, definitely new record in the making.” 

Read our review of Bronze Mystic here!

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Album Review: Human Pyramids – Home

Review from Ben Forrester

I remember hearing an early demo of Human Pyramids and being completely blown away by these lush, majestic orchestral arrangements that were lovingly composed by ridiculously talented musician Paul Russell. In 2014, Paul released debut album ‘Planet Shhh!‘; a heartwarming affair, full of rich brass tones, soaring string work with a rock band kick underneath which made for an utterly explosive set.

Three years on and Paul has travelled the world for both work and pleasure, ending back up in his native city of Glasgow. He’s also spent this time juggling parenthood for the first time, as well as working hard on a fresh batch of Human Pyramids tunes. The results of these new, sparkling adventures can be found all over the second Human Pyramids album ‘Home‘.

Louise‘ is a spectacular opener! Drums tumble, a 16 piece orchestra falls with it before being interrupted by a choir of angels that sound like they’ve just smashed a tub of blue smarties. And that’s just the first 20 seconds! This is probably the closest Paul has gotten to writing a tune that sounds like his math-pop band Axes. It’s all sprightly drum fills and spiky guitar chords that transform into sharp yet strong noodling as strings pluck and synth bass throbs. It’s a whole heap of fun and it’s clear from the off that HP are going for nothing short of jubilation on this record.

The arrangements throughout the album are completely breathtaking. For the most part, each track builds on a melody that just grows and grows into something giant, ready to burst into a million stars. Basically, it’s uplifting shit! ‘Shaking Hands‘ is a brass soaked beaut, ‘Canned Thunder‘ is a percussion lead carnival of ecstasy, while ‘Crackle Pop‘ is a majestic crescendo of bold beats, blossoming strings and fuzzy guitars. These are just a few of the many examples of the multicoloured bursts of splendour on offer here.

Although there are many moments of melodical bliss here, for its majority, Home very much captures the euphoria of seeing this project live! It’s really a sight to see nearly 20 musicians on stage together, jumping and swaying along to these energy filled compositions and I can imagine tracks like ‘Big Data‘ and ‘Your Flag’ really lifting off in a live capacity! It really has to be handed to Al Gunby, who drums on the whole album and brings quick fire percussive workouts to the fold and on these tracks in particular, shows off his skills as a total powerhouse behind the kit.

There is a no doubting that Home is a celebration of an album. It’s like a 45 minute firework display that never tires, each firework as tantalising and joyous as the last. Paul has really pushed himself as a composer and producer on this collection and totally steps it up in terms of arrangement, sonics and composition. In a world getting gloomier by the day, Human Pyramids remind us that there’s a lot to be thankful for and Home feels like a beautiful, bright light at the end of the tunnel.

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What’s On Michael Portillo’s iPod: ZoZo

Here at Birthday Cake For Breakfast, we like to get to the heart of what an artist is all about. We feel the music they listen to is just as important as the music they make. With that in mind, we’re delighted to have phenomenal Leeds post-punk outfit ZoZo talk us through five releases that got them in the mood during the production of their impending EP.

I mean, it’s gotta be Talking Heads innit. For me this record is my favourite of theirs, it’s just so slippery and tactile. They tap into big pop hooks and it’s still real angry and groovy underneath. Early on in the Zo timeline we looked to them a lot, cos they do such smart funny pop music. Over time its become our modus operandi to do the same. The bass on ‘Making Flippy Floppy’ is stupid good and the hook from ‘Pull Up The Roots’ seems like it’s been playing on repeat in the back of my brain since forever.”

Number 2: PARKAY QUARTS’ album CONTENT NAUSEA (2014)

The lyrics on this album are wicked, real funny and pretty upsetting. The music is both loose and frenetic and I love how thrown together it feels, like it’s almost accidental how good it is. On record we try to capture the urgency of our live show, and tighten it a lil for general consumption. There’s a golden ratio of looseness that can be quite elusive but I think PQ captured it here. ‘Uncast Shadow’ is haunting, ‘Every Day It Starts’ is an anxious banger. There’s a line on ‘Pretty Machines’ that comes to mind a lot, “these days I fear that my window was just a reflection.” I think that song in particular informed some of the lyrics on our record quite heavily.”

Number 3: PAVEMENT’s album BRIGHTEN THE CORNERS (1996)

Man this record is super dense, I think it can come across as pretty simple pop music on a casual listen, but there’s so much information packed in there. All the instruments bounce off each other, and slip in and out of focus, they’ve really hidden some super complex stuff in there. Not to mention the lyrics are some of their best. ‘Transport is Arranged’ is woozy and slack, ‘Old To Begin’ burrows deep into your brain and hides and then songs like ‘Stereo’ and ‘Shady Lane’ are all time bangers. Totally a band operating at the height of their powers, I could go on about this record all day.”

Number 4: DAMAGED BUG’s album COLD HOT PLUMBS (2015)

Big boy Dwyer comes through with the synths. OCS in any form are an omnipresent force in our music, what’s there to say really. I like it when Dwyer gets weird, I love the various palette’s he brings to the table here and i love all the weird pop moments that form from the ooze. Was prolly listening to a tonne of other OC related pieces around this time, but then again who wasn’t?”

Number 5: LCD SOUNDSYSTEM’s album SOUND OF SILVER (2007)

Yes boys, this is one of the best. LCD are one of those bands we talk about a lot in practice. They keep it very simple but do it with such intensity. One of the things we always try to do with our music, is to make songs that are at their core all about movement. Not a great deal to say about this one, its a perfect bit of dance music.”

A Bitter Gourd‘ is out November 10th on Hatch Records. Grab a copy (or two) here.

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Live Review: Dinosaur Pile-Up at Sound Control in Manchester 4 November 2017

I always love walking into a venue to see a band in full swing, with a crowd absolutely gagging for it. Last night at Sound Control in Manchester, Demob Happy had this nailed on. More like a perfectly choreographed scene from a film than a room full of people escaping a piss-wet Saturday night, the massive crowd had already gathered up front to witness this Brighton based trio bash out an assortment of grungey numbers soaked in sleaze. Looking every bit a rock and roll band, but with a catalogue full of roaring belters to back it up.

New single ‘Be Your Man’, which recently had its premiere on Huw Stephens’ BBC Radio 1 show, was one of the many on show last night taken from their impending new album out next year. Bringing with it all the swagger of Queens Of The Stone Age in their more psychedelic moments, the supremely catchy single had the kids up front bouncing, pure loving it.

I bumped into Josh of False Advertising during their set (because I can’t take credit), who likened Demob Happy to a British ‘Lullabies To Paralyse, which is possibly the highest praise i’d say you can receive!

There were rumblings of a ‘DPU’ chant as Dinosaur Pile-Up set up on stage, with this soon being elevated to heavy chanting just moments prior to their proper arrival. With their 2014 LP ‘Nature Nurturerecently getting the vinyl re-release treatment, it was expected that the set would be littered with songs from their sophomore album. What we were surprisingly treated to was not only the expected Nature Nurture numbers, but also a whole host of nostalgic cuts from their oeuvre. Saturday night in Manchester was hit central; a setlist of champions.

Birds & Planes’ was quite the surprising intro for everyone in the room, so much so that an elated group couldn’t contain themselves and took it upon themselves to get the circle pit going real horror show. It was soon followed up in quick fashion by ‘My Rock ‘n’ Roll’ in all its head-banging glory, the second of the evening already to be taken from their debut LP ‘Growing Pains’.

Frontman Matt Bigland announced that Saturday night in Manchester “…isn’t a show, it’s a fucking party” and sure enough, the crowd were fully up for everything dished out throughout the evening. ‘Red and Purple’, from their latest LP ‘Eleven Eleven’, sounded nearly arena ready, with the place going off like a rocket. Also from the album, ‘Friend Of Mine’ and ‘Anxiety Trip’ had an outing, the former bringing out the mass singalongs, with the brutal noise of the latter causing mass pitting.

Elsewhere, it was mainly all about that sweet nostalgia, with particular highlights in the anthemic ‘Arizona Waiting’ (more mass singalongs), ‘Peninsula‘ (complete with that spectacular little Top Gear riff), ‘White T-Shirt and Jeans’ and ‘Mona Lisa’. Prior to the arrival of the monumental ’11:11’, ‘Nature Nurture’ used to be the go home song, so it was cool to hear it tucked into the set, but still sounding just as raucous as ever. The crowd still sang out the chorus long after it had finished.

In a slightly terrifying state of affairs, people began to sing the opening of ‘Summer Of 69’ during what turned out to be the solo intro of ‘Derail’. An odd moment indeed, mainly due to the recent spate of celebrity deaths and the possibility that Bryan Adams had croaked it!

With the early days very much being the theme of the evening, ‘Beach Bug’, from their debut ‘The Most Powerful E.P in the Universe!!’, was a welcome surprise. Matt joked that it had to be a team effort, being unlikely to remember the words if the crowd didn’t help sing along. Thankfully for the trio on stage, the mere mention of the track had the room going wild, with participation off the charts. Similarly, having returned for an encore, it was the turn of ‘Hey You’ from Growing Pains that had hands in the crowd high in the air, some brandishing flickering lighters.

Having put on a succession of super hits, it was during the encore that Dinosaur Pile-Up decided to mix it up and jump straight into a completely unexpected cover of ‘Say It Ain’t So’, a nod to their garage rock roots and their support slots for Weezer in recent years. This was easily one of the main highlights, being most unexpected from an evening full of surprises. It was soon followed by the least surprising song choice of the night, but quite rightly so – 11:11 had the room descending into utter chaos. Mass pitting, folk crowd surfing and Bigland screaming his heid aff. A perfect finale.

Matt made a comment at one stage about their time away and seemingly never-ending tour of the states, bringing it all back home and suggesting how thankful they are to be able to return to the UK and especially Manchester (keen to highlight that this was not just your every night show patter!) With last night’s performance being possibly the best I’ve ever witnessed from them, here’s hoping we see a lot more of Dinosaur Pile-Up in future!

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