Manchester, Review

Gig Review: Formation at Manchester Academy 2

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London band Formation are currently supporting Jagwar Ma on their tour around the UK. Charlotte Howson caught them at Manchester Academy 2.

By Charlotte Howson
Image: Formation


It’s not easy being the warm-up act for the main band one hour before they are due to come on stage. The crowd tends to be full of either people who have heard of the support band before, or people who aren’t sure what time the whole thing is going to kick off so get their early just to be safe. You never quite know what type of vibe the audience could bring. This night was no different.

Huddled close to the stage, I watched as the live event started to unwind in front of my eyes. Formation walked on and introduced themselves quickly and then jumped straight into the swing of things, kicking off with their recently released, ever-so-catchy single ‘Drugs’. The strong bass from Jonny on this track carried the crowd into head nodding motions, and slowly more people trickled into the venue making their way to the front of the stage trying to get in on the action of the bass.

Making no time for crowd small talk, they headed straight into the next song, featuring a wild and wonderful collection of instruments. It wasn’t long before Will Ritson, the frontman, brought out a tambourine to set a beat with his fellow musicians on stage, giving a sort of improvisation vibe. After all, they made it clear in the interview they had with me that experimentation was key to their music. So I wasn’t surprised when a cowbell reared its head, played by the seemingly experienced hands of Will. He gave the word cowbell a new cool edge as it integrated perfectly into the set.

On two keyboards, yes that’s right two, Matt Ritson gave the crowd some futuristic robotic sounds, taking the crowd with him on a journey through outer space. Now I know why they describe their music as Michael Jackson mixed with Terminator! The twin duo came alive on stage, with Will’s vocals fitting seamlessly into Matt’s venturous sounds. As the audience, we were all riding on the waves of their vibrations.

And the man acting as the stitches in between all these separate pieces of cloth was Kai Akinde-Hummel on the drums! Keeping a heavy beat up throughout the whole performance accompanied by constant head banging was truly impressive to watch.

At the end of their penultimate song, Will took to the audience stating, “Sorry I can’t say much, we haven’t got much time on stage”. And he wasn’t wrong; the whole thing was over in just a matter of 30 minutes, ready to tidy up and make way for the main band: Jagwar Ma.

It really was all over far too fast, but Formation put on a good show to a challenging crowd. Academy 2 is not the easiest place to play to when it’s half full. Ultimately warm-up acts are there to ease the crowd into the atmosphere of the main band, and overall I was impressed with their electro/pop feel. Unfortunately I didn’t catch any of Jonny Tam’s ‘Michael Jackson’ moves which he promised earlier that day; however, regardless of the dance moves, you should pay attention to this bands sound! It’s new and exciting and I can’t wait to see what’s next from these boys when their new album drops in February 2017.


Charlotte is currently studying Textiles in Practice at Manchester School of Art. She has a passion for all things creative and likes to feed her creative appetite by travelling and immersing herself in different cultures. Follow her travels and creations on instagram @charhowsonn

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