The UK live music scene may be on its knees. But on October 15th, a near-capacity crowd flocked to Gorilla in Manchester to kneel at the unholy alter of The Virginmarys as the Macclesfield-hailing band played the home leg on their tour of their critically acclaimed EP, Devil Keeps Coming.
With it being my first Virginmarys show amongst their devout fans, I was unsure of their ability to cut through the usual awkwardness of live music in the new normal. From the very first note of The Meds, any sense of cynicism slipped away. The crowd was instantaneously thrown into animation. Yet evidently, this was no average punk rock pit. Euphoria fuelled the momentum in place of the usual boozy weight-throwing aggravation. Something I’ve scarcely seen unless Riot Grrrl icons and their descendants are gracing the stage. As a testament to how much adoration The Virginmarys garner from their fans, one couple made the 3,000+ mile journey from Ohio to witness the deafening duo tearing up the turf in their hometown.
One thing I will never forget is how it wasn’t just the blues mainlined through punk veins with holy rock n roll reverence that gripped the crowd through the symbiotic dynamism between Ally’s guitars and Danny’s Bonham-Esque drum fills. In every direction, I saw how viscerally the lyricism resonated and psyched the crowd into a frenzy through the wit-deep lines that strip the alienation from political disillusion and mental precariousness.
The acoustic rendition of Sleep was also a tear-jerking memorable feat of the hit-after-hit setlist, which forwent the egocentric inclusion of an encore. I’m fairly convinced that in Ally’s past life, he was a tortured soul from Tennessee. His uninhibited songwriting skills are only matched by his ability to get to the crux of emotions that mostly go unspoken.
If you get a chance to catch them on the remaining legs of their UK tour, take it. You won’t regret it.
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Live Review by Amelia Vandergast