Walking into Manchester Academy tonight you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the wrong place to see TV on the Radio. Hoards of heavily eyelinered, black haired teenagers swarmed the place; these couldn’t be TV on the Radio’s faithful fans surely? Of course not, they were here to see Suicide Silence - What a relief. With that bullet dodged we made our way into Academy 2 to the largest number of people that I have ever seen crammed into the small room. Weaselling our way through all sorts of people until we could at last see the stage, we stood and waited. Expected on stage at 9, TV on the Radio turn up fashionably late, adding to their cool persona and intrigue. As the crowd quieten down, one punter shouts ‘Ghostbusters!’ (TVOTR have closed recent gigs with a cover of the theme tune) bringing large grins to the faces of the band. As the opening drumbeat of Young Liars begins, you find yourself wondering ‘Is lead singer Tunde Adebimpe the coolest man ever?’ The short answer – yes. The longer answer involves purchasing tickets and watching as he combines the limb-flailing dancing of Ian Curtis, the passion of The Libertines and the confidence of Kele Okereke all the while creating a stage presence which is unique and utterly enthralling.
As the band delve deeper into their back catalogue you begin to get a picture of the sound this band can create. With five main members plus a dedicated trombonist the noise they sculpture is so full and well formed you could well reach out and grab hold of it. Pulling songs from each of their previous 4 albums as well as their debut EP, TV on the Radio soon have the crowd under their spell, perhaps hypnotised by the wind chime which, for some reason, is hanging off guitarist Dave Sitek’s guitar.
This is not just a music gig. The band’s interaction with the crowd is not limited to thankyous and pleasantries - and the between song chit chat becomes as much of an interest as the music itself, with the crowd often chortling at remarks and jokes Tunde and Kyp Malone share.
The first truly outstanding moment came with New Cannonball Blues, a song off their latest album. Guitarist Kyp asks the crowd to ‘keep up the energy; we’ve not played this one live before’. Why this is the first time is beyond me. New Cannonball Blues is a bass-driven groove and one of the standout tracks off Nine Types of Light.
Dreams, Province and Red Dress announce the most hectic section of the set, with the crowd really starting to dance before they are hit with set highlight Repetition. This song was made to be played live. Its ‘repetitive’ call of ‘My repetition, my repetition is this’ is carried for much longer than the record as the crowd goes wild and the drummer beats the living daylight out of his drum kit. With what is assumed to be the final time through, the crowd erupt into rapturous applause. However, this is not the end. Graciously taking the applause, TV on the Radio then burst back into action hitting everything as hard as possible, giving the song one final lease of life.
There was to be no rest for the understandably knackered crowd as the unmistakable drumbeat of Wolf Like Me kicked in. This was to be the second highlight in a set full of highlights and the crowd were only too willing to dance with as much energy as a dog locked in a room with two dozen ProPlus. This all proved too much for one evidently dehydrated fan, who needed carrying away after fainting. Although concerned, this did not take anything away from the sheer volume of whoops, cheers and claps Tunde & Co received upon bringing the set to an incredible climax.
After numerous renditions of ‘We want more!’ from the crowd, the band finally reappeared, kicking off the encore with a cover of Fugazi’s Waiting Room, a song barely recognisable compared to the original. This was followed by Dancing Choose, a fast song further sped sending the crowd mental. One of my personal favourites before the gig, this version blew me away. Closing the gig with Satellite, a song off their debut EP, TV on the Radio brought the curtain down on what was truly an incredible gig. No Ghostbusters in sight, and do you know what? It wasn’t missed.