False Advertising


No excuse is needed for Manchester’s best band to put on a show at a top venue like the Castle Hotel on a Friday night in early August. Friday nights that don’t have False Advertising gigs can only be described as a waste anyway. But on this occasion, there happens to be an extremely good reason. Mandy Cooper is a friend and fan of the band, and she is attempting to raise £60,000 to pay for life-saving surgery that is not available on the NHS (see the link below to donate). It is testament to the nature of the band that they have gone out of their way to help Mandy tonight, and the sell-out crowd tonight indicates that the music community is just as generous.

I arrive in time to catch Happy Animal’s set, and at first I thought I had passed through a portal into a Seattle club in 1990. The trio, who in reality are native Mancunians, play a revived version of the nonsense-free, swampy rock music that made the American city the world leader for a number of years, and their set is committed and convincing enough to earn them the right to be compared with the grunge scene’s heavy hitters, with the song ‘Serotonin’ particularly standing out. Later in the night, Graces keep it direct with their three-pronged vocal and dual guitar attack. The Sheffield quartet test the Castle’s volume limits (not for the last time tonight) and their new single ‘Glamour’ goes down especially strongly.

Peaks is the new project of Ben Forrester, formerly one half of Bad Grammar. Peaks is an altogether different prospect however, featuring Forrester alone on stage, live looping his guitar to build layer upon layer of effect. He is a brilliantly relaxed presence on stage, joking at one stage that his evenly-paced post-rock is perhaps not the reason that the night is a sell-out, but in reality he has the crowd in the palm of his hand, and the admiration in the room for his three-dimensional tracks is blatantly obvious. One of the night’s themes is the bands playing covers of Placebo songs, in tribute to Mandy’s favourite band. Forrester takes on ‘Pure Morning’, transforming it into a better song than it ever has been.

All of which sets the stage for False Advertising. They are rarely off the road as a band, playing in Manchester alone for at least the third time this year. It has allowed them to build a vocal, devoted core of fans, many of whom are out in force tonight. They opt to open with their Placebo cover (‘The Bitter End’, since you ask), before launching into a sprint through their unmatchable collection of sugar-coated garage rock gems. Guitarist and vocalist Jen Hingley assumes centre stage for the first and third segments of their three-act set, their now-regular format, whilst drummer Chris Warr swaps with Hingley to take up vocals and guitar duty for the middle third.

Each of the three sections mix the band’s newest material with the older mainstays, and based on tonight there is no doubt that their 2017 singles ‘Honest’ and ‘Not My Fault’ are comfortably strong enough to hold their own. Warr’s time at front of stage typically sees the focus turn to a spikier, solo-driven dynamic, as evidenced by Brainless EP cuts ‘Piece of My Mind’ and ‘Give It Your Worst’. When Hingley returns for the climax, it is the band’s biggest, most infectious songs that dominate: ‘Wasted Away’ and ‘Alopecia’ the one-two punch that sends us off delirious. This will not be their last time in town this year (there’s one scheduled for October 12th, in fact) – if you have managed not to catch them yet, there can be no more excuses. As Ben from Peaks declares during his set, there is no better band in Manchester right now than False Advertising.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.