This Modern Baseball review is written by Simon Carline, Gigsoup Contributor. Edited by Stephen Butchard.
Contrary to what they may have led you to believe, Modern Baseball aren’t home alone on this particular Friday night. Instead, they’re tasked with keeping a sold out, 700-people-strong crowd in Manchester happy on the second of two UK shows booked to celebrate last years’ ‘The Perfect Cast’ EP.
Before the Philadelphia-based foursome hit the stage there are two support sets from The Pooches and the hugely impressive Sorority Noise. The latter in particular garner a decidedly positive reaction and, judging from the few sing-alongs that ensue towards the end of the set, the US Emo rockers already have plenty of fans in the crowd. You could have been forgiven for forgetting whose show it was before their final song, when Cameron Boucher delivers a poignant speech on his struggle with mental illness as he dedicates their closer to a recently departed friend that had suffered the same troubles. It’s endearing stuff and they have almost certainly acquired a few new fans here.
From that point on, the evening is all about Modern Baseball, a band that are endearing in their own way, through their relatable college anthems that manage to speak to fans that are ten years out of education. The band themselves will only graduate around the release of their third full length, as they deliver the highly anticipated ‘Holy Ghost’ in May; it’s a scary thought in itself to think about how much success they have had at such a young age but, on tonight’s evidence, anyone can see that it’s well warranted.
After walking on to ‘Walk of Life’ by Dire Straits and waiting for everyone to stop whistling along, Modern Baseball lunge into a crowd pleasing set that pulls largely from their 2014 LP, ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’. They may have a new album on the way but tonight is a night for the classics. An opening one-two of ‘Fine, Great’ and ‘Broken Cash Machine’ start things off with a bang. Nothing can stop them with that kind of momentum. Nothing except technical difficulties that is. A mere two songs in, bassist Ian Farmer’s weapon of choice gives up on him, causing a few minutes of delay. Thankfully, guitarists and co-frontmen Jake Ewald and Brendan Lukens have plenty to talk about as they engage with the sizeable crowd about internet sensation, Damn Daniel, a topic that would then make cameos throughout the set.
Once the disaster is averted, the set continues with the first of three songs to be aired from ‘The Perfect Cast’ as they dive back in with the catchily titled ‘Alpha Kappa Fall of Troy the Movie Part Deux’. The songs they choose to pull from the EP are arguably the only complaint of the night, as they omit two of its strongest songs in ‘The Waterboy Returns’ and ‘…and Beyond’. They do give the brilliant ‘The Thrash Particle’ a run out later on in the piece though, so there’s some solace to be had on that subject.
The top of the setlist is noticeably Ewald heavy as they spark mass sing-alongs on ‘Going to Bed Now’ and ‘Apartment’, as well as ‘Tears Over Beers’ from ‘Sports’. The Lukens-led ‘Rock Bottom’ and ‘Old Gospel Choir’ break things up before they use the middle of the set to give the crowd an insight into ‘Holy Ghost’ with two new songs that definitely sound a little more mature, especially on Jake Ewald’s effort as he harmonises with Farmer to great effect.
Unsurprisingly, the two new songs signal the only lull and it is a relatively short respite that’s well and truly forgotten by the time their biggest hit is played. Sean Huber helps out Lukens and takes centre stage on ‘Your Graduation’ as he leaves his drum stool behind to deliver his vocal cameo. He looks every bit the frontman too, as he has a sea of fists pumping, stopping just short of crowdsurfing.
After closing the set with great renditions of ‘Charlie Black’ and ‘Two Good Things’ from ‘You’re Gonna Miss It All’, the band leave the stage briefly before an inevitable encore. They treat the crowd to a snippet of ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by The Killers before launching into their breakthrough hit, ‘The Weekend’, raising plenty of smiles that light up a small chunk of this town. No one is left praying something cool might happen on this Friday night. They’ve already witnessed it.