Into the Pit: 051: The Birthday Massacre – Live at Satan’s Hollow Manchester – 25-October 2007

Like many other gigs of late, I was left feeling rather old again after this one. Again the attendance was heartening – it was a queue pretty much ’round the block before it opened – with many, many very dedicated fans of the headliners.

Things took a while to get ready, and indeed it appeared that there were lots of frustrated faces and voices before the doors opened. When things were ready and open for business, it was miles behind schedule (indeed TBM didn’t finish until gone 2330, in the end). A note about the venue, too: Satan’s Hollow is rather unusual in that the stage is “in the round”. This would be great if the stage was more than six inches high, and if the lighting was any use whatsoever: meaning that unless you were right at the front – rather difficult in a packed venue – an obstructed view was all you got, even when like me you are over six feet tall. And as for photos…well let’s just say it was something of a trial, and the photos that I have linked to below are the best I could get.

Anyway, the first band onstage were Novus UK, the band that I was there at the invitation of to do a review/get photos etc. And despite a crowd that to say the least seemed somewhat disinterested and were far more bothered about talking amongst themselves, they did a pretty good job. What they do is something of an electro-goth hybrid, with good melodies, a few memorable choruses and something of a bite to certain songs that other similar bands are desperately lacking. Of particular note was the track Justify, which struck me as being head-and-shoulders above the rest of the set, even if I did spend most of that track trying to avoid the sparks from the angle-grinding.

The second support act, Psycho Luna, I just simply didn’t get. Something between a goth-punk-ska hybrid, they were very competent at what they do, it’s just that it simply didn’t do a thing for me. In my opinion, in fact, they were far better at pulling rockstar poses than actually playing the music, which appeared to be almost totally devoid of tune, or, indeed, any emotion whatsoever.

The good thing is, The Birthday Massacre were well worth the extended wait. In addition to all the other delays, the intro then seemed to go on for ever, leaving the entire crowd on tenterhooks for that little bit longer. Which made the twinkling opening of Video Kid sound all the better, even if in my view it is far from their strongest song. Lover’s End was way better, it’s much heavier sound filling the entire room, and the chorus threatening to take the roof out.

The set overall was an interesting mix of new and old, and with a few surprising omissions (Play Dead). Of the new stuff, Goodnight particularly sounded huge, like a stadium-filling anthem in waiting, and Looking Glass wasn’t too far behind. Red Stars‘ guitar stomp also worked well, with a sound balance that actually meant all six members of the band could be heard properly (even if Chibi, for quite a lot of the set, appeared not to be able to hear much of what was going on through her monitors).

The level of fans dedication to the band was also quite obvious by just how many knew every word to the new songs, never mind the old ones, meaning that every song got a rapturous reception, and helped to give the whole thing a great atmosphere, too. There wasn’t quite an encore, as such – more that a combination of the awkward layout of the venue and the impending curfew meant that there was just time to squeeze out a cracking, raging Blue and a final, euphoric Happy Birthday. The latter track is kind of the band’s signature tune, nowadays, and closing on it felt right.

So with the new album showing a much bigger, cleaner sound, they seem all set to head for bigger things, which going on the “push” they seem to have had from their label, and the already dedicated fanbase, I’m sure won’t be too long in coming. Let’s just hope they get to play in better venues than this in future…

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