The Last Dinner Party live in Manchester: a generational moment for alternative music

The Last Dinner Party brought their tour to Manchester Academy 2

Autumn is in full swing in Manchester, and Oxford road is awash with drizzle and revellers.

The venue, Manchester Academy, has three separate rooms and, on nights where multiple bands are performing, it is always a delight to see the different queues of fans flocking.

You can distinguish who is here for which show based upon the attire of each queue and with sparkles, leather and feathercuts amassed outside the middle sized room (aptly named Academy 2); it doesn’t take long to decipher which congregation are here for The Last Dinner Party‘s performance.

Before the party could begin in earnest, the room was treated to an outstanding set by homecoming heroes, Picture Parlour. The band only have the one released track to date, but their set was packed with muscular, strutting rock. There are shades of The Mysterines in their swaggering songs, as well as clear nods to post-AM Arctic Monkeys.

Before long, the main act takes to the stage and every eye in the room is trained on The Last Dinner Party. They stride on to a string overture – composed by the bands keyboardist Aurora Nishevci, so I’m told – and a cacophony of cheers.

From the outset, its abundantly clear that The Last Dinner Party are something special. Launching into their opener, ‘Burn Alive’, they work effortlessly as a live unit as they combine keys, duelling guitars, bass and drums. TLDP’s frontwoman, Abigail Morris, is a supreme performer and she dances and strides about the stage, delivering her lines with gusto.

Morris doesn’t utter a word to the crowd until the set is well underway. She introduces herself and her band to the delight of the Mancunian crowd, who hang on every word. ‘Feminine Urge’ provides an early highlight. It’s an offering which embodies The Last Dinner Party perfectly: a quintet who retain unashamed femininity whilst rising to the top of an alternative music scene which has traditionally been so male-dominated, it’s refreshing to see and, frankly, glorious to behold.

The band aren’t confined to any one genre either, and whilst most of the music follows an alternative rock style, there are glimpses of Americana (on the brilliant ‘Godzilla’complete with honkey-tonk keys) and constant shades of Kate Bush‘ orchestral synth weirdness.

Lead guitarist Emily Roberts plays a multi-instrumental blinder, picking up the flute and mandolin at points in the set. She has some superb rockstar moments too, furnishing different cuts with impressive guitar solos, channelling The Fall‘s Brix Smith in the coolest way. 

The mandolin makes an appearance during the gorgeous ‘Gjuha’a song by aforementioned keyboardist Aurora Nishevci, in which she addresses her experience as a generational immigrant and the pain of not knowing her mother tongue. The track is sung in Albanian, and stands up as a high point in a set of high points. The sensitive, personal cut crashes straight into ‘Sinnertheir second single, which sends the crowd into raptures.

Throughout the set, it’s notable that so many of TLDP’s fans already know the words to unreleased songs. Although there are various clips on YouTube, the fact that this number of people know every word to tracks that have had 0 streams and 0 radio play speaks volumes about the following that this band have garnered.

The Last Dinner Party end the show with their debut single, ‘Nothing Matters’a moment in alternative music culture for which the music press have simply ran out of superlatives, and rightly so. This band are going to go far, and before long it will be impossible to see them in rooms of this size.

Photo credit: Cal McIntyre

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