If there’s something that’s been severely lacking in the live music scene lately, it’s support bands that can really pump up the crowd. However, there are a few exceptions to this that still manage to engage and entertain a crowd awaiting a headliner and one of those bands is The Word Alive. Though they took to a rather small stage in Manchester’s Academy 3, they maneuvered around the space expertly in an attempt to create a spectacle. They didn’t disappoint, the Arizona five-piece are an adrenaline filled delight and their songs are just catchy enough in their genre to get a crowd moving. Singer Telle Smith encouraged crowd surfing, which received a mixed reaction. Moderately negative from those at the front, especially from one girl who Smith then complimented over her bright hair colour – despite the protest of a male fan a few rows behind. There is a shameless album plug thrown in, along with a performance of an upcoming song “Real” and fans roll over the tops of the crowd from every which way. There’s even a sweet moment between one fan and Smith as they sing together, fists bumping before security carted the boy off to the side. But the highlight of their set comes from the last song “Life Cycles” which everyone, including those who are only moderately familiar with the band, seemed to know the chorus of and sang it back louder than singer Smith.
With the crowd amped from the previous performance and their own anticipation, Memphis May Fire finally took to the stage under complete darkness. A single spotlight lit up singer Matty Mullins for his quick intro to who they are before strobe lights began to fly. There was a technical difficulty seemingly out of nowhere and while some bands could suffer under the unexpected intrusion into the set, Mullins seemed to thrive off of it – taking the opportunity to talk with the fans. Mostly to one kid who couldn’t resist yelling the word “ginger” to the fiery-headed singer, earning a sarcastic laugh. Though as the issues were fixed, all that was left was to introduce their next track: “This song goes out to my beautiful wife. Will you be my choir tonight, Manchester?” Mullins engages, sharing a touching moment with the fans about his better half who is on the other side of the world. As asked, the crowd obliged and joined Mullins in a heart-warming rendition of “Miles Away.” Let it be known that they seemed to do incredibly well in a small intimate venue, perhaps the ability to connect with fans because the distance is a lot less than in a larger venue had something to do with it. They were a mix of wondrous melodies in which Matty shows the versatility of his voice, with a few breakdowns here and there to get the crowd jumping. Coupled with an outstanding performance, Memphis are a recipe for success and do well to entertain the room which had packed to the brim to watch them play.
All photos and review by Kelly Hamilton