It’s been a funny old week.
There’s no doubt you’ve already heard of the recent tragedy in Manchester, so we won’t press on with the details any further. Whilst it’s not unusual to hear of bombings and terror attacks on a daily basis in our current climate, for us it’s been a bit too close for comfort.
Terror on the doorstep, but with an illogical, heart-wrenching target.
People will tell you that ‘you can’t let them win’ and that ‘you have to live your life’, but it’s difficult when people are being hit in concert venues and places bringing so much joy to so many people, as we’ve seen recently in France and earlier this week with the atrocities at Manchester Arena.
What’s been incredible to see though, in the wake of such a tragedy, is the city of Manchester (and beyond) coming together, not only to honour the fallen but to show a sense of community spirit. There’s been a city wide feeling of not backing down in the face of adversity.
Music has never been so important to Manchester than it is now, which is a bold statement given its hallowed history. Less than 48 hours after the event, promoters across the city made it known that shows would be taking place as scheduled. Broken Social Scene still went ahead at The Albert Hall (with an appearance from local lad Johnny Marr), Homeshake still showed up at Gorilla and even Simple Minds cracked on at Bridgewater Hall.
Up the road at Gullivers in the Northern Quarter, Washington D.C’s Priests made their scheduled stop in Manchester without interruptions.
On arrival at Gullivers, it seemed like any other day of the week. The folk behind the bar were their usual pleasant selves and punters were out in abundance. Upstairs was no different, and it was relieving to know that a lot of people had gotten the memo.
Three quarters of Priests were already on stage as I walked in, with vocalist Katie Alice Greer not far behind. A few premature whoops and hollers were made for her arrival, though she cooly waved them away, commenting “We’re not started yet. Talk among yourselves.”
‘Appropriate’, the opener from their storming debut LP ‘Nothing Feels Natural’ released earlier this year, kicks things off with its heart-pounding opening from drummer Daniele Daniele and aggressive, snarled vocal of KAG. Within seconds, the events of the past 24 hours are pushed to the side as the congregation get lost in the unwavering power of the quartet. There’s a smattering of applause just prior to the song teetering into insanity; the focused, crazed stare of drummer Daniele directed at bassist Taylor Mulitz as the pace picks up, before KAG brings their Mancunian initiation coming to a howling halt. That’s the first song out of the way then!
It was announced earlier in the day that Priests would still be honouring their Manchester date (their first time here), and following the surf-rock swagger of second track ‘JJ’, they announce that it simply didn’t occur to them not to do the show. There’s that community spirit.
Big single from the album ‘Pink White House’ comes out early on. A bloke in front gets utterly lost in the beat, his missus desperately trying to catch up. Guitarist GL Jaguar is all over the stage for the hypnotising ‘No Big Bang’, smashing it about the stage. But he’s overshadowed somewhat by the rapid-fire drumming and constant stream of vocab from drummer Daniele. Fuck knows how she manages it, but it’s hard to look away. To look at Priests, this is the exact sort of song you might imagine they’d play (not a slight on them), all wrapped up in nostalgia. It’s surprisingly greeted with lots of shout backs during the spine-tingling chorus. A cool as fuck bunch, no doubt.
The chops of bassist Taylor really come out on the stupidly good ‘Puff’, providing an unnerving kraut-esque vibe alongside the scratchy, shrieking guitar of GL and the mind-warping vocal of KAG. It’s soon followed up with the equally funky, sped up funk of ‘Suck’, closer from their debut LP. It’s around this time when everyone in the audience seemingly realises how fucking warm the venue has become (especially yours truly), and coincidentally it’s not long before early favourite ‘And Breeding’ puts an end to the evening.
An undoubtedly strong showing from Priests was a welcome distraction on Tuesday evening. Whilst the events that put a dark cloud over the beginning of the week will never be forgotten, it was good to see Manchester move back into business mode and return to its usual self, doing what it does best in showcasing bands of all sizes throughout the city. Priests played a part in that.
The quartet said they would be definitely making a return. Here’s hoping it’s under better circumstances.