LIVE REVIEW: Kids in Glass Houses, The Nightmares, O2 Ritz, Manchester, 16/10/2023
Photo Credit: Abbi Draper (18th October – O2 Forum Kentish Town)
To celebrate the fifteen-year anniversary and release of the remastered version of their debut album Smart Casual, Welsh wonders Kids in Glass Houses reunited for a run of headline shows where the album was to be showcased in full alongside some of their much-loved tracks.
At a packed out O2 Ritz in Manchester, it was down to The Nightmares to open the show. With all black attire, candles and black roses scattered across the stage, there was a gloomy atmosphere circling around the room. Performing tracks from their recent album Séance, the complimentary dual vocals from Adam Parslow and Eleanor Coburn were a breath of fresh air as they lit up the room. Admittedly their sound was significantly darker than tonight’s headliners which may have been the reason for the subdued crowd response however, the band are heading out on tour with Creeper next month and we reckon this will be the tour for them due to their similar sounds. 7/10
As the lights went down, we were excited to be back living the KIGH life as the band headed out for their first tour in nine years, following two special sets at Slam Dunk Festival 2023 as a playlist which included The Bitch Is Back rung out over the speakers. Walking onto stage to a sea of applause, Fisticuffs kicked off tonight’s main proceedings and the crowd were transported back to 2008.
From the funky lines of Girls to the Good Boys Gone Rad spelling lesson where we were reminded how to spell D-E-A-D and A-L-E-D, the slick musicianship and friendship between the band was highlighted. Each individual playing an integral role; Shay and Joel Fisher on guitars and backing vocals, the driving drums of Philip Jenkins, Iain Mahanty’s lead guitar lines and the ring-leader attitude of Aled Phillips.
A set defining moment came during fan favourite Saturday as Phillips took time away from vocal duties to allow the overpowering crowd to take lead vocals. As the quintet stepped back, looking out into the crowd, the cathartic united screaming of ‘it’s been a bitch of week’ brought smiles to faces from the front to the back of the venue.
Performing an album in full, even one as loved as Smart Casual can be a risky move as despite the album being a BTN favourite, the crowd energy during the non-single tracks began to dip and at times Phillips appeared to forget a lyric or two; but maybe that was just down to the overwhelmingness of the response from the Manchester crowd.
After announcing, ‘This has been Smart Casual’ and leaving the stage, it was time for Act 2 and a new outfit for Phillips from a smart suit jacket to a leather look signifying the second part of the night. Opening their encore with the trickling raindrops sounds, we all knew that Sunshine was on its way and the crowd were ready to sing back giving their absolute all to the band with Phillips request of ‘Let’s hear you!’ being spectacularly answered.
In the second half of the set, Kids in Glass Houses had the impossible task of choosing a small selection of their discography to complete their set. Offering up the tracks including Lilli Rose, The Best Is Yet To Come and Peace, attendees were reminded of the vast number of sing-along favourites in their back catalogue. If only we could have a full set of album and b-side shows… we definitely wouldn’t complain.
Closing proceedings with the only track worthy of the task; Matters At All. This felt like everything this tour and tonight was about as drinks flew through the air, confetti rained down over the crowd and the band took the chance to lap up every single bit of love in the room for them. After such a long time away, the band were clearly comfortable being back on stage sharing impressed looks and smiles as new memories were made.
There was a real sense of nostalgia and magic in the air tonight as we and many others were taken back to some of our favourite days gone by. Kids in Glass Houses are a band who have grown up with their fans and been responsible for long lasting friendships so this tour was the perfect chance to reflect and appreciate what has changed since they were last on the scene but also what has remained.
KIGH are well and truly back, showing they still have the crowd captivation abilities and the hooks to get you singing long into the night. With the band announcing they’re off to record a new album, it looks like now they’re back we don’t have to worry about them disappearing again any time soon. 8/10
Written By: Nicola Craig