Matt & Will Ritson, Formation

Matt & Will Ritson, Formation


It’s a special day for Formation before they even step on the jam-packed-full of equipment corner stage at the Night and Day Cafe. It’s the release day of their debut album, Look at the Powerful People.

The five-piece, founded by twins Will and Matt Ritson, walk on stage under the cover of darkness and the crowd that’s loosely littered around the venue suddenly clamour toward the back of it, leaving the bar empty for the first time in the night.

They start their set with ‘Drugs’, with the strobe lights completely immersing you into the feel of the track before moving straight into their first ever release ‘Hangin’. It’s a fast and pacey start and the majority of the audience are with them and moving already.

‘Powerful People’ stands out straight away. It’s a track that somehow feels more whole and comes across strongly live, in message and performance. It’s engaging musically and lyrically and instantly has everyone eager for more. Following it with ‘Back Then’ keeps the energy high.

Formation’s rhythm is infectious and if you’ve ever thought “I don’t hear cowbells enough these days” then get yourself down to a gig with these lot – there’s plenty and it’s not at all misplaced, it intertwines perfectly with their glossy synth and punchy bass lines. An added visual bonus is that it gives frontman Will Ritson an opportunity to lose it with his band, which is transfixing to watch.

There’s some down time near the end of the set. Older release ‘Waves’ is a stark but welcome change of pace and shows there’s more in their locker than just high energy dance tracks. It’s a contemplative moment and album number ‘Blood Red Hand’ keeps it low for a little longer.

While the set hasn’t included a full play through of Look at the Powerful People, it has been a showcase of a band that has absolute strengths but less tried-and-tested styles too. Ritson stands proud in front of his audience telling them how happy he is to finally have the album out after “struggling to get somewhere”.

‘A Friend’ moves on from any sign of struggle and picks the mood right back up to, arguably, the peak of the night. There’s not a stationary body in sight as Ritson jumps onto Kai Akinde-Hummel’s bass drum to help smash the cymbals.

Before closing their set with ‘Ring’, Ritson takes a moment to thank the Manchester crowd, even reminiscing about their first ever gig as a band in the city. “Join the cause” he urges, and after a truly passionate show I’m going to.

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Hannah Barlow

I’m a music lover who enjoys nothing more than sharing my enthusiasm for all kinds of sounds. Manchester born and bred, I work in radio and have an unhealthy appetite for cheese.