The Subways

The Subways

– ACADEMY 3, MANCHESTER –

The house lights come down and 3 revolving police lights come on, two blue and one red. The room fills with dramatic introduction music and voices greet us in many different languages. It’s not long before The Subways walk out into the flashing light. They receive an enthusiastic welcome and get straight on with ‘We Don’t Need Money To Have A Good Time’. The excitement has been building for the past hour and a half and the earlier bustling is immediately translated to jumping around and singing along by a chunk of the crowd down at the front. One song in and the night is already hitting its stride.

The band’s new self-titled album is their fourth and was self-released back in February. Its completion was part funded by a Pledge Music campaign, and the second track up tonight, ‘I’m In Love And It’s Burning In My Soul’ is one of the teaser tracks released to promote that campaign. The reaction isn’t quite as fierce as the opening gambit, but the energy stays high enough to launch us into another crowd favourite ‘Shake! Shake!’ with some vigour.

Frontman Billy Lunn takes the time now to explain that this tour is so they can come and play the new songs for us. They do some more of that now, playing both ‘Good Times’ and ‘We Get Around’.

This is not my first time seeing The Subways so I already know the next little nugget of information. “I wrote this song about my mum” says Lunn in what has become his traditional introduction for ‘Mary’, taken from 2005 debut album Young For Eternity.

Without letting the atmosphere drop the band head straight into ‘Alright’. Lunn and bassist Charlotte Cooper engage in synchronised bouncing through the instrumental bits of the song. All this jumping about is raising the temperature in the room quite considerably and the stage does not seem immune to it either. Lunn jolts his guitar backwards throughout the song and each time he does beads of sweat fly from his fingers across the stage.

Earlier in the tour drummer Josh Morgan decided to temporarily leave the band, with Ryan Jenkinson stepping in to play drums in his absence. Morgan “has been living with the flowers, trees and butterflies” according to Lunn, but tonight he’s back and “this is his moment” as they move onto ‘Dirty Muddy Paws’.

Next up is ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang’ and after it we’re asked how we’re doing, “can’t believe I haven’t yet asked this” says Lunn, adding “how rude of me”. As if by way of apology we’re offered up the next song ‘My Heart Is Pumping To A Brand New Beat’. Another from the new album, “this song is detuned for your listening-slash-sexual pleasure” declares Lunn.

The Subways

The Subways

The crowd have started to get quite demanding, particularly one member who calls for Lunn to “take off your shirt”. Lunn protests, suggesting he’s embarrassed by his beer belly. Eventually he caves “I promise I’ll take it off, but not yet” he says. It seems that is not good enough though, “off off” chants follow and off it comes. The chant quickly changes to “you fat bastard”. Having won that battle, the crowd’s reward is an energetic ‘I Want To Hear What You Have Got To Say’ and ‘Rock & Roll Queen’ double.

Switching to a semi-acoustic guitar, Lunn remarks “I feel more comfortable with the bigger guitar” before starting ‘Taking All The Blame’, the band’s latest single. ‘Girls & Boys’ follows and then “I’m going to ask you to do something really crazy, is that cool?” we’re asked, before being instructed to “sit down” and “chill” as ‘Celebrity’ begins. I went for kneeling down, I didn’t much fancy my chances of getting up quickly from a sitting position. I felt vindicated when I spotted a couple of other people struggling to get up at the appropriate moment in the song.

The added theatrics of the crowd jumping from the floor felt like a set closing moment, but the band do not leave the stage. “Usually at this point we put our instruments down”, Lunn begins to explain before he’s interrupted. Our victorious audience member from earlier hears the word “down” and takes on a new challenge, shouting out “trousers down”. He’s told to be quiet before Lunn returns to explaining why they haven’t left the stage. “We find that pretentious” he says and the band stay on stage and begin the last few songs with ‘With You’ and ‘Oh Yeah’. I suddenly realise that either the speakers are getting more distorted, or the volume has taken its toll on my ears. Its probably more likely the latter actually.

‘Just Like Jude’ is our final new song of the night before a reprise of the “trousers, trousers” chant that was brushed aside earlier. “You’ve got to do it too, you can’t just demand things of me” says Lunn, not expecting to see trousers swiftly removed and raised to the sky. A look of horror descends his face as he says “I’ve got to do it now” and finally agrees “I’ll do it during this song”. The song is the final song of the night, ‘It’s A Party’. A little mid-song crowd-surfing by Lunn is followed by him keeping his word. The trousers come down to his ankles and he tries to get through to the end. He needs a little help to get there, with trousers around his ankles he can no longer operate his effects pedals. A member of the crew crawls to his feet and operates his pedals for him. The set ends and Lunn hops off the stage, trousers still around his ankles.

Had you asked me before the gig whether it would end with someone on stage wearing only their underwear I probably would have said no. I think its a reflection on how much fun the crowd and the band were having that a man who was initially reluctant to remove his t-shirt ended up in that state. Ten years on from releasing their first record, The Subways still have the ability to create this atmosphere and long may it continue.

The Subways  Official | Facebook | Twitter | Youtube

Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.