Live Review: Less Than Jake at the 02 Ritz, Manchester

Manchester’s 02 Ritz held host to a night of ska and punk sponsored by Fireball whiskey, which seemed to draw all of the previously thought endangered ska kids out of the cracks and flooding to the venue.

Opening the mammoth five band bill, was local band Broken 3 Ways, based out of Wirral. The 6-piece competition winners, though playing to a largely empty venue still saw fit to play infectious ska-punk which grabbed the attention of those who were present, before vacating to make way for Australian psychedelic reggae 4-piece who played to a far more sizeable crowd as the 1,500 capacity venue started to fill. Their mix of stoner rock with MIDI synths got the crowd moving warming up for the rest of the night.

Reggae Londoners, The Skints proceeded to pack the rest of the venue out with their blend of reggae, ska and dub. With the crowd starting to whip out their phones whilst simultaneously swaying back and forth. The Skints set also marked the start of the audio levels being spot on for the rest of the night. With the deep bass and keyboards sitting harmoniously with the vocal range flowing from the band. Topped off front-woman Marcia Richards frankly incredibly flow.

Mariachi El Bronx shook the night up, with a deviation from the usual ska/punk setlist that the crowd had become accustomed to. Nonetheless captured the crowd with their particular blend of Mariachi. A true standout of the night as they performed the genre flawlessly but also with a few unique qualities. For instance, It’s highly unlikely anyone in that room will see any other mariachi band knock back that many collective beers during a set or say “mother fucker” on stage quite as much as frontman Matt Caughthran. Not forgetting Joby J. Ford’s accordion falling apart during the set, yet not stopping playing. However, the band despite their unorthodox style, treated the Manchester crowd to a true slice of Mexico with an electric set, taking tracks from all three albums.

Finally, time for the main event as Floridian ska legends took to the stage. Playing a set filled with their stage humour, such as guitarist Chris DeMakes quip early on: “Does anyone mind if we play new songs tonight? Tough, we’re playing old ones”. Impressively the band have perfected making shows feel special by playing to specific crowds, whether that be igniting a “Yorkshire” chant whilst in the rival county of Lancaster or taking time out to especially thank Liam Gallagher for not being in attendance. Combine that with the sheer musicianship the band wield. Watching bassist Roger Lima in particular fire out riffs most couldn’t hope to figure out. All topped that off with the overall stage presence the band commands (not forgetting the beach balls and toilet paper cannons) then it is probably safe to say few left that show feeling cheated out of their ticket money. Playing songs from across their back catalogue, it was a set that would have appealed to a Less Than Jake fan from any era of their history.

For the measly price of £10 a ticket, there is little to complain about with this show. A five-band line up, all of which put in everything they had to make the night a particularly spectacular one. The night went off without a hitch, and everything sounded crystal clear. What more could you ask for from a show?

Rating: 8 out of 8 Slices
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Also congratulations to the happy couple who got engaged on stage that night from all of us at the Daily Slice.

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