Saturday evening at the Academy 2 in Manchester was an evening of two halves: the support acts and the headliner. It isn’t often, but on occasions, the support acts outshine the headliners, and Saturday night was one of those occasions. Setting aside the greater depth of repertoire of Hinds, the line-up could very easily have been reversed.
London-based lo-fi disco quintet SWEAT hit the stage first and quickly won over the half-full venue with their spellbinding and seductive sound and stage presence. Supporting Hinds on four dates of their UK tour, SWEAT are worth seeing in their own right.
From the first song on, the audience was dancing along to their alluring and mature sounds. I may be playing with fire here, but next time you are trying to seduce your lover, leave the Barry White album were it is, and put on SWEAT’s Be Complete instead. Though, starting off the tour with only four 7” vinyl singles left, you may have to contact the band to get your hands on a copy.
By the fourth song, the 200-strong SWEAT-loving crowd was dancing along, with shouts and whistles following every song. When singer Dante Traynor announced “This is near the end… for us, not the show”, the audience’s discontent was clear. They wanted more, and so did I.
They way that the band moved the crowd, it won’t be long until SWEAT has a dedicated fan base and will be headlining shows. The slow, yet wild, tunes often reminded me of late 80’s disco pop and movie soundtracks with their arpeggiated reverbed chords. It is the musical and personal synergy that helps SWEAT produce their unique and flirtatious vibes of slow but powerful rhythms. Those fans, who arrived early were treated to something very special and knew that they were in for a good evening!
Second up was Willie J Healey with his unique blend of rock’n’stroll. By the time the band took to the stage the Academy 2 was full up, which is not a mean feat on a night where The Levellers were playing next door and the other two concert venues at the Academy were putting on shows.
The modern pop, rock-reggae vibes from Willie J Healey were very clean and quickly got everyone bopping along. The crowd clearly knew the band’s tunes and started to join them in song, occasionally shouting out requests. Willie J Healey matched SWEAT’s sauciness with equal measures of fun and good vibes. With a very polished and technically proficient sound, Healey clearly bonded with his band and together they created highly distinguishable tunes, which Healey accurately describes as “Beach Boys meets Meatloaf”. At times there were a few too many things going on musically, which diluted the high quality of the music underneath, testament of a young artist still finding his feet. There is a great promise in the music and with time and a little more maturity, Willie J Healey will surely be a star of the future.
Healey’s catchy tunes, which clearly are destined for any self-respecting radio station, draw you in and quickly make you lose perception of time. Before I knew it, their set was over and it was time for the main act.
To the tune of Hot Chocolate’s You Sexy Thing and a screaming audience, the four ladies from Madrid danced their way onto the stage. Starting off with a couple of slow songs, Hinds was limbering up the audience for the festival atmosphere that was to come. With an excited voice, singer Carlotta Cosials, announced their customary “Hello! We’re Hinds from a place called Madrid, in Spain. Do you know Spain?”
With their distinctive, heartfelt, and very accomplished sound it is easy to understand how Hinds have built up a dedicated following in such a short time. What Hinds lack in stage presence and musical ability, they more than make up for in enthusiasm and harmony between group members. In good madrileño fashion, Hinds were true to their rock’n’roll roots and successfully brought the 60’s vibes up to date to the 21st century with an outstandingly good sound quality.
The crowd was clearly packed with fans, many of them bringing signs and Hinds t-shirts, some of which were crudely hand-drawn. Every song was accompanied by an eruption of cheers and whistles. Girl-power was back, and a barrage of rock’n’roll and easy-listening indy-pop ensued that took everyone straight back to Reading 2016. Hinds’ sound was spectacular and a lot of effort has clearly gone into making the girl-band sound as well as they did. Singing several songs in duet with the crowd created an excellent connection between Hinds and the adoring spectators. Members of the audience who had not seen Hinds before were soon drawn into their performance and appeared to have a fantastic time.
The audience was taken on a roller coaster ride of songs varying in speed. However, contrary to most bands who choose to open and close the shows with hard hitting songs to get the crowd going, Hinds chose the reverse, reserving their fast-paced rocking songs for the middle and end of the show, reverting back to a slower-paced three-song encore. I am unsure whether this was a conscious decision to break a tradition or if it was a sign of a show that still needs a little polishing.
My main criticism of Hinds’ performance would be the long breaks between songs and constant tempo changes breaking the flow of the show a little. Repeated and alienating rants about “cold country, cold people” in reference to their Scandinavian shows, bore testament to the immaturity of guitarist Ana Garcia Perrote who later in the show labelled Manchester as working class compared to sophisticated London.
It was clear that the audience had a fantastic time and loved every moment of the show, singing along, dancing and engaging with the music. Personally, I was most impressed by the two support acts. The highly entertaining and very much recommended show caters to many musical tastes. If you are going to see them at their Bristol or London shows, I suggest getting there early, not to miss the excellent support and to get a good spot in what will be a packed concert hall.