There have been many bands over the years that were a flash in the pan, or bands that retread the same old tired clichés tour after tour and album after album. That can’t be said about Alkaline Trio. While the clichés may still be in place, they’re anything but tired and the same booze-ridden nicotine stained lyrics still carry the same impact as they always had even after singer Matt Skiba’s turn to sobriety.
Postponed from early November due to unforeseen circumstances (Skiba broke his foot), the band are touring their latest album Damnesia, a collection of old songs played acoustically, with the inclusion of two new songs Olde English 800 and I Remember A Rooftop. Many saw the album as a cash in, mainly due to the lack of original material so I was intrigued to see how the new versions of fan-favourites held out live. With support coming from Dave Hause of The Loved Ones and The Dear and Departed featuring Dan Smith of LA Ink fame, the evening promised to be one of quality sounding music.
The Dear and Departed rattled through a better-than-average set to a more or less empty Manchester Academy, a venue you can’t help think would have been more full had the singers other profession been more widely known. Dave Hause also didn’t disappoint, managing to draw in most of the crowd from the bar to watch his acoustic performance. Joined for the final song by Trio guitarist Dan Andriano, Hause closed his set with the uplifting C’mon Kid, which stepped up the game once more and left the crowd eager for the nights headliners.
Known for their energetic live shows, the 15 years they celebrated really seem to have token their toll on the band. Skiba, who was once renowned for his alcohol and drug abuse looks older than ever, a facet which isn’t helped by him having shaved his hair. Dan again, looks older than before while drummer Derek Grant looks much the same as ever. That said however while the energy may be lacking from the band the songs still sounded as good as ever, with fan favourites such as Private Eye, and Time To Waste garnering the biggest sing-alongs, despite their change in sound. A personal highlight of the night was the acoustic version of Blue In The Face, sang alone by Skiba under a spotlight the response it earned brought the roof down and earned an encore. Ending with an out of character but welcomed version of ’97 was a good move on the bands part. Unexpected and beautifully self-deprecating, fans were sent out into a Manchester evening with the lyrics “I don’t deserve this” cemented in to their conscious.
Age is a terrible thing, and something unavoidable, however while the drink and the drugs have clearly taken their toll on a band nearing their 40′s the music still sounds as dark and as unashamedly twisted as it ever has, and long may it continue to do so.