Manchester Orchestra - live in Lowell (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Manchester Orchestra

live in Lowell (2018)

live show

It was key to catch Manchester Orchestra one more time on tour before they possibly close the promo cycle for their very excellent 2017 album A Black Mile to the Surface. This was actually the last show of their tour as well, so it really might have been everyone’s last chance. It was a co-headliner with New Jersey’s the Front Bottoms, and the bands were going big-time with this taking place at a college hockey arena in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Solo act Shannen Moser kicked it off. She played with a two-piece backing band, doing kinda country-leaning singer/songwriter fare; she never really yodeled, but it even leaned into those styles at times. It wasn’t particularly my thing, but the crowd seemed fairly into it.

Manchester Orchestra walked onto the stage promptly at 8:20 to some loud cheers throughout the audience. They then softly launched into “The Maze” from their aforementioned album, then followed it with the darker and superbly dynamic “The Moth”. The new stuff sounded great and was illuminated by some flashing light setups they had. The crowd was starting to warm up, but pretty much exploded when the band played “Shake It Out”, one of their highest-charting singles. It’s also one of their best songs for sure. A push-pit near the front broke out and would sporadically continue throughout the rest of the set from there, for just about any remotely loud or “rockin’” moment, really.

They threw it back deeper into the catalog after that with “I Can Barely Breathe”, an awesomely melancholic standout from their debut, 2006’s I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child. Three more new ones followed (adding some nice guitar squalls to “The Grocery”) before they rolled out a short suite of mid-career cuts like the balladic “Simple Math” and heavy “Cope”. They didn’t really say much to the crowd except boilerplate thanks until late in the set, though they did mention that they would “disappear for the foreseeable future...see you soon when we submerge again.” They left us with the recently released B-side “I Know How to Speak” and big single “The Gold”, with those awesome chorus harmonies on point.

Set list (8:20-9:23):

1. The Maze

2. The Moth

3. Shake It Out

4. I Can Barely Breathe

5. The Alien

6. The Sunshine

7. The Grocery

8. Simple Math

9. I Can Feel a Hot One [snippet]

10. Cope

11. The River


12. I Know How to Speak

13. The Gold