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Wunderhorse @ O2 Ritz Manchester review and gallery – a new wave of indie-rock mesmerising to witness live 

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Featured image and gallery: Ben Redshaw

It’s the Friday night before Halloween and 1,500 concert-goers are crammed into a sold-out O2 Ritz on Whitworth Street in anticipation of Wunderhorse’s biggest headline gig in Manchester to date. Fresh from a headline set at Live at Leeds festival and after a run of EU tour dates, it seems like this run of shows is celebrating the end of an era for Wunderhorse as it’s been just over a year since the release of their highly-rated debut album Cub.

Opening straight off the bat with ‘Leader of the Pack’, as soon as the ‘Sweet Home Alabama’-esque melody kicks in matched with Jacob’s gritty vocals, the crowd are captured in the band’s rhythm from the start. Together, the four musicians play with a tightness they have become well-known for, with Jamie Staples on drums and Pete Woodin on bass holding down the rhythm section, while Jacob Slater on lead vocals and guitar alongside Harry Fowler on guitar mastering the melodies.

‘Girl Behind the Glass’ cues a loud singalong of the title of the track while Slater does his signature jumps with his guitar in the air unleashing his energy, the crowd’s voices filling the room. ‘Butterflies’ is mesmerising to witness live as the track becomes increasingly raw and fills with emotion, alongside Slater’s brooding vocals and haunting guitar melodies.

Next, Wunderhorse introduces some unreleased tracks to the set including ‘Midas’, ‘Do You Feel The Rain?’ and ‘Cathedrals’. All three diverse tracks showcase what Wunderhorse are best at: soaring grunge guitars and raw vocals exhibiting honest emotive lyrics and leaving the crowd in anticipation for them to be officially released.

‘17’ is a clear fan-favourite and ‘Morphine’ offers the chance for the crowd to appreciate the mellow track before deep diving into ‘Teal’ which soon sends them into a frenzy. Fans clamber onto each other’s shoulders for their main character moment offering their biggest response of the night. Hearing ‘Teal’ live is another beautiful moment, which sees not only the crowd let loose, but the band outpour an infectious amount of energy on stage. It’s a song we don’t want to end.

There are very few words shared from Slater to the crowd leaving the performance feeling less intimate but conversation feels unnecessary as the music and the performance speaks for itself. Another unreleased track, ‘Arizona’, sees Slater’s haunting screams heard on and off microphone, echoing around the venue, and laying a solid ground for the next album.

The encore of ‘Purple’ and ‘Poppy’ hits like no other. The live musicianship between the four during ‘Poppy’ is something to be considered ‘rare’ these days, giving the track a new lease of life, it showcases their artistic confidence and mesmerises the crowd. 

Wunderhorse are undeniably paving the way of a new wave of indie-rock, reminding fans why it is important for music to be heard live. We’re already awaiting their return to Manchester and are filled with hope that a sophomore album will soon be announced.

About the author / 

Georgina Hurdsfield

Masters student in Psychological Wellbeing in Clinical Practice at Manchester Metropolitan University. Keen photographer and music enthusiast.

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