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Added by James Gaden     May 31, 2010    
 
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It Bites – Academy 3, Manchester – 6th March 2010

It Bites shows are becoming a twice yearly event in Manchester’s Academy 3, so it’s just as well that the band have such strong material throughout their three old/one new back catalogue to avoid playing the same set twice. First though here’s the not inconsiderable talent of support act Aynsley Lister, a new name to me but he’s been around since the mid-90’s and he and his three band members certainly made people take notice, despite the fact that he and the headliners have very little in common musically. Lister has an appealing voice and a nice, relaxed guitar style and plays blues-based songs with a contemporary edge, coming over like a cross between Jeff Buckley and Jeff Healey. His hour of concise and catchy songs just seemed to fly by and I enjoyed him very much, although I do have my reservations about whether I’d enjoy his albums as much as I enjoyed him live.
With the ‘new’ half of the band (guitarist John Mitchell and bassist Lee Pomeroy) having dropped the all-white stage clothes, something Mitchell would talk about later, ‘Bullet In The Barrel’ from ‘Eat Me In St. Louis’ is a surprising opener and seems to catch a large portion of the crowd unaware. In fact, compared to recent shows the reaction is quite muted for the first few songs, despite including the popular ‘All In Red’ and usual set opener ‘Oh My God’ amongst lesser played new songs ‘Playground’ and the return to the set of the title track from ‘The Tall Ships’. It’s only really when they introduce ‘Underneath Your Pillow’ to the set for the first time that the mood of mild indifference begins to change.
It soon becomes plain sailing as the songs get longer and more progressive with the sing-along chorus and traded guitar and John Beck keyboard solos of ‘The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ and the distinctive guitar effects and keyboard fills of ‘The Old Man And The Angel’. ‘Fahrenheit’ is another track from ‘The Tall Ships’ that makes it into the live set and works well, but it’s the guitar histrionics of ‘Rose Marie’ and a storming ‘Ghosts’ that really get the crowd moving before the band finish the set proper with the twenty minute tour-de-force ‘Once Around The World’. The single encore seems to have become ‘Kiss Like Judas’ in recent years and has band and crowd jumping on the spot like lunatics, but to be honest this wasn’t one of the best It Bites shows I’ve seen in recent years. Talking to John Mitchell in the pub before the gig it seems work is underway on a new album, I think they need to get that out before they tour again.
Phil Ashcroft
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