I have something to confess to you, Dear Reader. Please don’t judge me for it, but it’s true: I do not like Bruce Springsteen. I know, I know, it’s kind of sacrilege, but I just don’t get him, all his music sound boring to me, and his voice really annoys me. In far, his whole image annoys me, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the sleeveless tops, maybe it’s the slightly-too-tight-for his age-jeans. Or maybe it’s the widescreen American rock he peddles to his thousands upon thousands of devoted followers. Which brings me to War on Drugs, the band I’m currently itching to see at Manchester’s Academy 2. So many reviews for their new album Lost In The Dream stated how much it sounded like ol’ Brucie, how much of an influence he clearly was on their sound, and I was worried that I would hate it. Oh how I was wrong.

Their new album is completely wonderful, full of driving American rock without the annoying earnestness of Springsteen. Yes, I can hear his influence in there, but War On Drugs take a sound that is quite universal, not just related to Springsteen, and make it their own and then some. From the very opening notes of ‘An Ocean Between The Waves’ to the final chime of the encore, I am enraptured by the very sound I thought I might hate. I think it’s something in the beautiful tone of Adam Granduciel’s guitar that really makes it for me, it’s just such an incredible sound that drives all of their songs and in through the crystal clear speakers of Academy 2 it sounds like a siren call, pulling you into the songs over and over again, no matter how much you resist.

A lot of their songs tonight are based around a propulsive, almost motorik driving guitar riff, with Granduciel’s vocals low in the mix, somewhere between former band mate Kurt Vile and early Bob Dylan (indeed, the opening of the swirling ‘Eyes to the Wind’ could be sung by Dylan himself). The songs then tend to ascend into thrilling guitar solos with the band driving on in the background as Granduciel turns his back to the crowd, lost in his own brilliant sound. ‘Under The Pressure’ is a highlight, a song that features a legendary and underused instrument in the bass sax, extended out to almost jam-level to wonderful effect. If there’s one gripe tonight, the two hour set sometimes could do with a change of pace, it’s all pretty much on one level except for the gorgeous ballad ‘Suffering’ and the beginning of the beautiful ‘Lost in the Dream’; but it is a minor gripe – when the one pace is as good as this one, then it seems a bit churlish to complain about it. Me enjoying two hours worth of Springsteen influenced rock…who’d have thought?!

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