Culture, Music

Alex G @ O2 Ritz review – gratitude goes an awful long way

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Featured image and Gallery: Georgina Hurdsfield

It’s another Saturday night in Manchester and this time around the O2 Ritz is chock a-block with indie meme page admins and teenagers with bright shocks of hair eagerly awaiting the arrival of Alex Giannascoli, better known to most by moniker (Sandy) Alex G.

He’s spent the last ten years amassing a cult following all thanks to nine studio albums that combine the very best of lo-fi pop and midwestern rock to create something special.

Most recently, two of his older songs ‘Sarah’ and ‘Treehouse’ have gone viral on TikTok. From my position in front of the sound desk, I note that this is where most of the younger audience members know him from. There’s a lot of excited chatter about where those two songs would place in the set, if at all.

Alex and his band arrive and ‘S.D.O.S’ is the perfect opener with its mildly haunting refrain and without so much as a breath they slide into catchy ‘Runner’. It’s my personal highlight of the night (early on, I know!) but it’s hard not to be totally transfixed by Giannascoli’s vocals. His ability to sound just like the studio versions of his music or the rather impressive yell he manages to replicate toward the end of the third verse. 

He and his band take a quick pause to thank openers Momma before storming their way through more from 2022’s God Save The Animals such as ‘No Bitterness’ and ‘Mission’ which feature between older tracks ‘After Ur Gone’ and ‘Kicker’. 

With such an extensive back catalogue, one can only imagine how difficult it is to curate a set that’ll keep everyone happy. However, with the 25 chosen for this evening, he just about manages other than the odd scream for ‘Bobby’ – his 2017 collaboration (and probably the closest thing the singer has to a proper love song) with pop artist Emily Yacina.

As it turns out, he’s a real joker too. The lights flick to red as ‘Brick’ is introduced as ‘Sarah’ which is of course met with huge whoops of excitement that die down once his audience realise that the screaming vocals of the track à la Death Grips are very much not what was promised.

Giannascoli exercises his range to a perfect degree by making the transition from rougher edged tracks such as ‘Blessing’ to the piano led, autotune heavy ‘Immunity’ which is closely followed by ‘After All’ and ‘Cross The Sea’.

There’s an announcement that they’ll play “a couple more” (‘Miracles’ and ‘Forgive’) before stepping away and coming back for the encore – a gimmick l I feel no longer needs an announcement because it’s been done so many times before by many others but I’ll let Alex and his band off just this once. 

The encore is not the anticipated one song that most musicians tend to go with but FIVE including the beloved ‘Mary’ and ‘Sarah’. 

‘Soaker’ sounded even better live than in studio recordings and there’s just enough time for the singer and his band to extend their thanks to the entire crew that helped them to get here.

I think it’s safe to say that not only is Alex G one of the most talented guys in the business but he might just be one of the most grateful too, it’s really refreshing to see an artist express gratitude towards everyone that helps their shows to run rather than them just leaving this as a fact for audiences to assume.

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Minty Slater Mearns

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