The Academic - New Century Hall, Manchester

The Academic - New Century Hall, Manchester

There’s a real buzz in the queue outside of New Century Hall tonight, as fans wait for the doors to open. It's a younger crowd, so the excitement levels are extremely high for the show tonight. As soon as doors open there is a rush to get to the barrier to get a front row spot for tonight's headliner. Tonight, Irish indie sensation, The Academic, arrive as part of their whopping 20 date ‘Easy On The Eyes’ Tour. After supporting Louis Tomlinson last year, the band have become increasingly more popular and tonight's sold out show is a perfect example of this.

In support tonight, we have exciting up-and-comer Siobhán Winifred. Tonight, she takes to the stage with her supporting band. As the lights dim, all eyes are on the stage as they kick things off with ‘Stay for Good’. There's great chemistry between Winifred and her band members; she often takes time away from the microphone to interact with bassist Darcey and guitarist Jamie. Winifred’s performance is something special, her voice sounds fantastic in this huge venue and her live performance really allows her song writing skills to shine through. An easy comparison for Winifred would be Phoebe Bridgers, both in lyrical content and sound; taking inspiration from her own experiences and crafting them into a musical narrative. As Winifred and her band make their way through the set a member of the crowd throws flowers onto the stage; clearly a sign of appreciation for the music. Songs such as ‘Blackhole’ and ‘Killers’ are stand out moments during the set and go down well with the crowd. As the set draws to a close it is a shame the band didn’t have longer to perform, but it is safe to say, Winifred won over the crowd and left them wanting more.


As the lights dim once again, the room is filled with the screams of fans eager to see the headline act take to the stage. The Academic are greeted with even louder screams as they take to the stage and start off their set with 2018 hit song ‘Why Can’t We Be Friends?’. Things are already off to a great start as the crowd give huge singalongs during the chorus. By the third song ‘Different’, the set is in full swing with the band as they blast out their infectious brand of indie rock to a room of extremely excited fans. Frontman Craig Fitzgerald’s voice sounds on point tonight as he belts out the lyrics to ‘Pushing Up Daisies’, sounding as good, if not better than the recorded track. 

All along the front row are excited fangirls holding up a variety of signs proclaiming their love for the band, two fans also have with them an Irish flag which they wave over the barrier. A quarter of the way into the set and there is no sign of the energy dropping any time soon as the crowd dance and clap along to the ever catchy ‘This Is Your Life’. Every song is met with the same amount of excitement with the crowd singing back every single word. Following a fast paced cover of ‘Reptilia’ by The Strokes, Fitzgerald leaves the stage and is down in the pit getting in amongst fans on the front row as they scream with pure joy at the chance to interact with the singer. He then returns to the stage, helped back up by bassist Stephen Murtagh, with a newly acquired feather scarf in the colours of the Irish flag; it is all rather fitting as the band continue playing through ‘Acting My Age’.

As the set heads into its final strides the crowd get a serving of some of the bands earlier work, ‘Mixtape 2003’ in particular ignites the room into a frenzy of jumping and dancing. It is moments like this where the band could easily be compared to Circa Waves or Vistas, a big compliment in its own right. ‘Girlfriends’ also gets the crowd going once more before the band work through their last few songs of the set. As the show draws to a close, it’s safe to say it’s been an exciting night of joyful indie bliss, one that will likely stand as a highly talked about gig for weeks to come.

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