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Twice the Headliners, Twice the Fun

May 12th, 2011

Manchester Orchestra/Cage the Elephant – Terminal 5 – May 11, 2011

Manchester Orchestra - Terminal 5 - May 11, 2011

Manchester Orchestra - Terminal 5 - May 11, 2011

Some bands are extremely nervous when they play their biggest-to-date headlining shows in this city, something both wholly understandable and often noticeable. If the nerves were there last night when Manchester Orchestra hit the Terminal 5 stage following coheadliner Cage the Elephant’s excellent set, they were certainly well hidden. Instead of loosely tripping over one another and making mistakes, the guys in the band were especially unified. And instead of pandering to the massive crowd, lead singer Andy Hull actually challenged them.

After a heavy start that inspired much fist-pumping (not the ironic kind, either), Hull called an audible with “I Can Barely Breathe,” a fairly deep cut from their first LP, I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. The crowd sustained the energy from early in the set and it was noticed. “That was, like, a test … and you guys are fans,” said the taken-aback Hull in praise of the audience. Even though he had the crowd he was looking for, the tests continued: During the cacophonous end of “Now That You’re Home,” he reached for the emergency brake that was the haunting “Sleeper 1972,” bringing the sold-out venue to a quiet standstill.

As the crowd continued to meet (and seemingly exceed) Hull’s expectations, he rewarded them in a few different ways. Manchester Orchestra played “Colly Strings,” another deep cut from their debut album that was screamed for throughout the night. And then the frontman began deferring to the crowd for help in choosing among other songs as the set wound to a close—often it was tracks from the band’s day-old new record, Simple Math, the songs from which sounded remarkable performed live. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | www.gregggreenwood.com