I first saw Against Me! in September 2008 in Toronto at V Fest playing to an intense number of thousands, the open air, Lego haired Oasis crowd didn’t seem too appreciative of them and Against Me! appeared a little fish out of water at the indie dominated festival.
They were awesome back then and so I got really excited when I found out one of their three headlining UK tour dates (after playing three dates with Slam Dunk) was at the 250 people capacity Manchester Academy 3 to promote their upcoming album White Crosses, and all for a tenner. Ace!
Getting there at half seven, an hour and a half before the first (and only) support band came on, gave us plenty of time to take advantage of the Student’s Union’s cheap beer as the crowd filtered in.
Instantly bouncing upon stage, Canterbury revved up the crowd within the first couple of songs (dedicated to people who have ever ridden in an ambulance and to anyone who has ever been lost in a basement…yep!) and the academy was soon bopping along to the songs of the pop-rock fivesome, which was pretty hard not to do, they were brilliantly catchy and synced together perfectly; the guitarist’s dancing was particularly special.
All in all, good music, brilliant stage presence and genuinely lovely chaps! Their album is available to download for free at canterburythankyou.com; definitely check them out! Prepped and hyped up, the crowd pushed forward and, pints in hand, lined the stage for Against Me!
The lights dimmed and the sold out Academy roared as they welcomed on the eagerly anticipated headliner. Strolling on stage to Nancy Sinatra’s These Boots are Made for Walking, the crowd erupted and a pit followed seconds later as the Floridian punk rockers jumped straight into High Pressure Low.
Characteristically all dressed in black, Against Me! wasted no time as they rolled straight into song after song, pouring every single ounce of built up energy into the gig upon a crowd of beer-drenched, shouting-along-to-every-single-lyric fans, who had been waiting three years for their return since their last album, New Wave.
The adoring Academy is even treated to a bit of Gabel’s solo stuff, Amputations, which sounded awesome with the full band behind him, a definite highlight of the night!
Against Me! received lashings of sweaty, fist in the air praise throughout the night as they introduced new songs from their unreleased upcoming album White Crosses, including I was a Teenage Anarchist, High Pressure Low, Bamboo Bones and White Crosses.
Marching along to Don’t Lose Touch, maintaining a full blown pit and clapping in unity where applicable throughout, the Academy 3 welcomed back Against Me! leaving the crowd chanting for more at the end of the set.
Introducing the three song encore with a huge grin plastered over his face, telling the fans “this is the best feeling in the world I’m tellin’ ya!” (Tom Gabel) Against Me! dived into Ocean, closely followed by Rapid Decompression, closing the action packed set with “Baby, I’m An Anarchist” and bid Manchester farewell!
Bursting on stage with energy from the support straight on to the encore, the intimacy of the Academy 3 offered a much more personal experience, for both bands and fans, compared to when I first saw them in Toronto. Overall, an amazing gig, worth every penny of my tenner!
White Crosses is released on the 7th/8th June described by Tom Gabel (singer and guitarist) as a “new start” for the band, brimming with devotion, well received by the Manchester crowd and (if this gig was anything to go by) undoubtedly the rest of their European tour.
They’re playing Leeds and Reading festival’s Lock Up Stage too, so if you’re going, check them out! With their energy and raw performance, if you’re an Against Me! fan, you won’t be disappointed!