Blue October - O2 Ritz, Manchester 16.03.2018
I suppose I should start by saying that Blue October truly mean the world to me. Like many if not all of the fans that the band have accumilated over the years, I owe them a lot. They have been there with me through some of the hardest moments of my life but also some of the happiest. They have very much become a soundtrack for my life.
You see Blue October to so many is so much more than a band, think instead of a family. A family united as one through the beautiful soundscape of a band that wear their hearts on their sleeve. More specifically the heart of the man himself, Justin Furstenfeld. Justin has built the band from the ground up and worked hard over the years to win the hearts of many. With his deeply personal yet ever so relatable lyrics he and the rest of the band have continued to deliver quality album after quality album and incredible tour after incredible tour. All whilst dealing with addiction, public break downs, divorce and a custody battle all of which have been on a very open and public forum.
The band have visited the darker sides of the human disposition but now find themselves sitting comfortably on the lighter side of life. The album 'Sway' saw the beginning of the their departure both lyrically and musically from the darker depths of Justin's mind. For me is was a step in the right direction and 'Home' continued that trend. Now with new single 'I Hope You're Happy' enjoying its release and a new album pending the band have returned to UK shores and they appear to be stronger than ever.
But first let me talk to you about tonights opening act Broken Witt Rebels. Now let us be honest supports can often be hit or miss, even more so when you have such a dedicated fan base like that of the Blue October family. They are here to see Blue October do their thing and that couldn't be more apparent as Broken Witt Rebels take to the stage. With minimal response from the crowd it was an ever so slightly awkward moment. But then the lads from Birmingham started to play and that is when heads started to turn and the bustling conversation died down. Hitting out with their Blues fuelled Rock they gave their all in their brief half hour set and whilst there was obvious disinterest from some of those in attendance, that band worked the crowd and I am confident they walked away with some new fans. They may not of got much a response taking to the stage but as they bid farewell with their final song of the set from my side of stage vantage point I could see many smiling faces. The lads had a very tough job opening up for a band so many hold dear and overall I think they took it in their stride and did a great job.
Now it it time for the reason everyone is here at The Ritz tonight. Taking to the stage and wasting no time with introductions the band hit the ground running with fan favourite 'Say It' and the momentum from their is relentless. Tonights show could almost been seen as a greatest hits set with the likes of 'Fear', 'Into The Ocean' 'Should Be Loved' and the always loved and always present 'Hate Me'. The inclusion of the beautiful '18th Floor Balcony' is inspired and one I have been waiting to hear live for a long time. Even the more recent songs like 'Home' and 'Coal Makes Diamonds' are everything I needed them to be this evening. The nights only new song comes in the form of recent single 'I Hope You're Happy', were we expecting a show case of more new songs off the forthcoming album? Yes of course we were. Does it matter? not really.
You could argue that yes it is true there are songs missing that I would loved to of included like 'Bleed Out', 'Chameleon Boy', 'Worry List' and 'For The Love', but that would be nit picking when ultimately the set list was essentially perfect. I could of asked anyone in the room to name their perfect set list and I imagine no one list would be the same. This I feel is testament to a band that are at the top of their game with a beautiful back catalogue of songs, that resonate on a different level for each individual listening.
The songs play out expertly played by the band and beautifully sung by Justin, the band have returned from Justin's darker days sounding better than ever. With previous videos and live recordings showcasing the lows that Justin endured, he has honestly never sounded better. His range vocally never fails to impress and his ability to convey the emotion of every word leaves me mesmerised. Justin's interaction with the crowd is always great to witness and it is clear from the huge smile upon his face, he loves every second of being up on that stage in the presence of those that allow him to continue doing what he does best.
I feel I could probably sit here and continue to dote on this evening, what it means to me and to those in attendance but I suppose I shall instead end with one more insight.
Everyone has that one band that has been there for them when they needed it the most, Blue October has been and I know will continue to be that band for me. As I imagine it will continue to be for everyone who was their in Manchester and every subsequent show on this tour, previous tours and all future tours from here on out. With all the crap that this world can throw at us, knowing that their is a place you can escape to means everything.
Blue October is my escape and tonight was something truly special.
Blue October - https://www.facebook.com/blueoctober/
Broken Witt Rebel - https://www.facebook.com/BrokenWittRebelsUK
Photos & Review - Friswell Photography