The Blackout // Dead Pony // Mouth Culture // Live Review // The Academy // Manchester

Looking at Twitter (X), I could see people had started queuing by 11 am. It’s always hit and miss, whether people will queue or not. It makes sense today though, because this is a significant gig. The Blackout have returned from the grave after 8 years and are kick-starting their “F CK The Blackout” tour here in Manchester.

Mouth Culture is a cross-genre rock band hailing from Leicester, UK. These are a band I’m familiar with, so I can’t lie there is a bit of bias here. The band embraces the whole opener title and makes use of that time, every time I see them. The command and confidence they come on the stage with is commendable, at every show they have avid fans lining the barrier shouting the lyrics back, earning a smile and point from the vocalist.

The same as when I saw them before, the band holds together well on stage. Even if the vocalist tripped or kept getting the mic cord stuck on an amp- they kept going, with no sign of a hitch. It’s a great trait for a band already to have, not getting flustered by the pressure when things go awry and to just keep going. The vocalist had great crowd interaction overall, encouraging the crowd to shout questions like “How are we feeling Manchester?” To which the crowd made a huge uproar.

What stood out the most during this performance were the drums to me. I’m not sure whether it’s the venue or the mix, but they added this insane bass to the instrument. No word of lie, as I wrote this I could feel the kick drum vibrating my shoes. It just made the songs more of a vibe when you could (literally) FEEL the beat. The vocals were of course, as per. The vocalist can do those low Lana Del Rey-esque lows and then immediately jump to the Gerard Way highs. The guitars had some great melodies and riffs that carried the crowd through the tone the band wanted to set.

I was surprised looking out to the crowd, the venue may be half full at this point. It’s a shame more people weren’t here to enjoy the support, as they are a promising act in the future of the scene.



Next came Dead Pony. The 4-piece Scottish “anti-punk” band. This is my first experience with them, after hearing many praises. The band has a punk sound to them which is refreshing. Fans at the barrier were going wild, Moshing and extending those devil horns to the stage. The vocalist would crouch down at the edge of the stage, pointing and then jumping around. Though not many words were exchanged between the band to the audience, the fans who were here for them seemed to be having a blast.

At first, I thought maybe the band had a more neutral aesthetic, with not much going on with the lights other than a bright light that made me want to sneeze (apparently I got something called Photic sneeze reflex – I don’t know either I’ve just always sneezed at bright lights). But once the photographers were out of the pit, the lights then began to change between pink, purple, white and everything in between. Some people chase twisters, I chase silhouettes. Would’ve been nice to have some variation with the lights at the start to set the vibe, but maybe it was a choice for their photos and videos.

The lights were popping off by the time we got to “Cobra”. I would’ve loved to have seen more enthusiasm from the crowd in the pit. I think the band just needed to have more interaction with the people below, beyond their fans. Encourage them to jump more, introduce each song or even get the crowd to sing back some lyrics on a song. The band has the confidence and the energy to be infectious.

The venue was finally starting to fill towards the end of the second band. Just in time for the lights to dim and our headliners to come out. Side note the turnaround time for this gig was pretty commendable, I have to say.



The Blackout are a childhood staple of mine. The 6-piece Welsh band first came onto my radar when they supported My Chemical Romance in 2011. Will this review be biased? 100%. The band as a whole are amazing performers, I missed seeing the iconic toss and catch of the mic by Sean Smith (harsh vocalist). As the band came on the stage, for a second I forgot I was in the photo pit and threw up devil horns before realizing “Ah yes, I need to get pictures.”

The band opened with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things“, the crowd immediately belting “I DON’T CARE WHAT YOU’RE THINKING” which seemed to catch even the band off guard. This is a trend throughout the night. The band would constantly silence themselves to hear the crowd chanting. Whether it’s with “Children of the Night” or “The Storm”, the latter of which the band joked they “didn’t know if people would sing it” and that it sounded “beautiful”, earning a “WOO” from the crowd. To be honest, the crowd tonight was spoiled for compliments. The band stated Manchester was like a second home to them.

The banter on the stage was nostalgic. Younger bands do not seem to have the same confidence nowadays to make jokes. The harsh vocalist asked the question: “Who’s seen The Blackout before?” “WOO” “Who’s seeing the blackout for the first time?” “WOO”, to which the vocalist quipped “If you’d have come to the last [tour], maybe we wouldn’t have given up”. Which was met with laughter from the audience. The band admitted at first they didn’t know if they would tour. They used the download reunion as a way to test the waters and due to the great reception- here they are now.

It was great seeing vocalists not afraid to get close to the barrier since the paranoia after COVID. The harsh vocalist even disappeared a few times into the crowd. He also wasn’t afraid to share his mic. Tossing it to a crowd surfer during “Shut the F*CK Uppercut”. The surfer is taken back by the invite and clambers to get the mic in the right position. Throughout the entire set, the band would express their thanks, saying things like “we never thought we’d be able to do this again.” The guitarist at one point even said how “[we] will probably make [him] cry.”

By the end of the set, we had circle pits, numerous surfers, and vocalists lost somewhere in the crowd and it all tied together to end with “Save Our Selves (The Warning)”. The song was the perfect way to wrap the night. With the crowd chanting the melody and tears forming in the band member’s eyes. I can’t believe how long it’s been since I heard this live and it still has that same impact it did all those years ago. People lingered after the main set, expecting an encore but it seems the band weren’t doing an encore today.

It’s a heart-warming experience watching a band you grew up listening to perform on stage and then seeing the bands formed after them have that same impact on today’s kids and teens. Each band tonight has great energy on stage, only further powered by the sheer enthusiasm of their fans. All of these bands are becoming staples in their scenes and I’m excited to see what the future holds. If The Blackout has anything to prove to us, it’s that fans will always be loyal and waiting…Kinda like Hachi, now I think it.

Mouth Culture will be embarking on their own UK headline tour around the start of March. Dead Pony has a busy first half of the year supporting Kid Kapichi and several festival appearances. The Blackout will continue their UK tour for 4 more dates and then I guess we just see what happens. Make sure to catch these bands because you never know when someone will decide it’s time to wrap it up for one final time (and then come back almost 10 years later for a reunion).


Review & Photography: Jayne Slater

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