The Virginmarys – The Ritz, Manchester

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27/09/14

It’s a brave band that begins a set with a brand new song, but the Virginmarys, Push The Pedal and Drive is just one of a whole crop of new songs that ticks all the boxes – something that bodes well for their much anticipated second album.  Just to ensure there’s no loss of enthusiasm, it’s followed by perennial crowd pleaser, Just A Ride, which had the packed-to-the-roof audience at the Ritz, leaping and flailing with sheer unadulterated joy. The Virginmarys ended their short UK tour at Manchester’s most iconic venue and that famous sprung dance floor was certainly taking some punishment on this rowdy, sweaty, Saturday night.

There’s much talk about power trios, but a band like the VM’s makes you truly appreciate what the term actually means – it’s sometimes inconceivable that three musicians can dole out such a blitzkrieg of sound. Singer/guitarist Ally Dickaty has developed into a consummate frontman, able to deliver caustic lyrics and blistering guitar solos with apparent ease, while force-of-nature drummer, Danny Dolan, combines raw power with dazzling precision, his primal rhythms interlocking with Matt Rose’s sinewy bass lines to create a solid foundation over which Ally can weave his magic.

It’s hard to single out highlights in what was a swaggeringly good set, but here goes: Motherless Land, another new song has a fabulous transatlantic vibe that wouldn’t have shamed Springsteen in his heyday. Running For My Life has that insanely good riff that you just can’t help moving to. And the ultimate song, Bang! Bang! Bang! had the crowd bellowing the lyrics back to the stage (little wonder the song’s been picked to accompany the trailer for new HBO TV series, Manhattan). The VM’s left the stage having given everything they had and we were still yelling for more.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

5 stars

Philip Caveney

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