Protest The Hero have been touring Europe since the start of the year in support of their latest album Volition, and the Manchester date was one of the last shows of the tour.
Opening the night was Intervals, who put on an great show, despite a little on the short side due to the lengthy bill. Having been unfamiliar with their older instrumental stuff prior to the show, it was great to hear reinterpretations of them with Mike’s voice and honestly, it was like they’d always sounded that way. A definite highlight was Ephemeral, a good and powerful performance from the band that really showcased their capabilities which sounded even better in a live environment than on CD. Although it would have been nice to see a little more movement from Mike, as he rarely moved from the centre of the stage, it was a wholly passionate performance from the four-piece and it was a genuine pleasure to witness. This band are going to go far – mark my words.
The Safety Fire opened with a loud and enthusiastic yell of “good evening, Manchester!” and a massive-sounding intro kicked in, but when frontman Sean began to sing, his vocals seemed awfully strained and a bit forced at times, especially the melodic vocals. However as the set progressed, he got into things a little more and the heavier tracks especially had a lot of momentum behind them, which was great to witness. For the larger part, it was a good performance, but perhaps the weakest set of the night.
As the lights went down for the next band, TesseracT, the chants of their name rang through the venue before they opened with a largely a cappella intro, followed by the full band kicking in – and wow, what an entrance! With a good, thick tone to their sound, they were engaging from the get-go and played a stunning set. The band were in tune with one another and whilst I wasn’t familiar with the music, it was easy and enjoyable to listen to, with some great sections that were simply calling out for some headbanging! An awesome set and certainly one of the highlights of the night.
The last time I saw Protest The Hero at the tail end of 2009, they were in a support slot and played to a largely empty room, so it was tremendous to see how packed out the Academy 2 was for them and how much can change in the space of about four years. Unfortunately, near enough as soon as the set started, the room was filled with flashing strobe lights so intense and bright it practically gave me a headache and it was difficult to look at the band for a prolonged period of time. Flashing lights are cool for adding atmosphere, but flashing strobe and intensive white lights is not.
Aside from that grievance, it was a pretty good set and singer Rody was the perfect frontman, effortlessly commanding the room to sing along and move about; the crowd completely in the palm of his hands, and a particularly amusing moment was when he chose the “hunk of the day”, where a member of the crowd was invited on the stage and given a beer!
As Protest The Hero left the stage to roars of cheers, it has to be said they went down a storm and it was an all round good night.