Sunday 3 February 2019

William Ryan Key and This Wild Life | Manchester 2019

When I saw This Wild Life were coming back to the U.K I booked a ticket within about 3 seconds, not really thinking about anything other than how excited I was to finally be able to see them. I missed their last tour (which I did have tickets for) due to family commitments, and I honestly felt like I'd been waiting forever to see them. Turns out it was a joint headline tour with William Ryan Key, formerly of alt rock band Yellowcard, which made it even more cool.

The evening didn't get off to a great start - my train was running late and then while I was having a swift half in spoons awaiting said train, I realised I'd forgotten my ticket. Cue a panicked phone call to the venue and a barrage of messages to See Tickets, ending with me being fairly sure I'd get in regardless. Then I underestimated the walk from the station to the venue and froze half to death before I got there. Anyway the lovely girl on the box office was really helpful and gave me a ticket so thank you, kind human, I hope the universe treats you so so well.

By this point I'd missed the support act (Rob Lynch) so apologies that I can't offer any insight into that - and half of William Ryan Key's set. As I got to the venue, which was the teeny tiny Manchester Club Academy, he was just about to launch into Downtown, which is coincidentally one of my favourite tracks from his 2018 album Virtue, and I say that as someone who just started panic-listening to him the day before the gig when I realised I wouldn't know any songs. But he is bloody marvellous, and Downtown was as good as live as I could have hoped it would be.

WRK then had a bit of a mishap dropping his guitar and having to re-tune, before treating us to some Yellowcard tunes: MSK, which was great, followed by Fields & Fences which he did with no drums or anything. Then came the real crowd-pleaser, Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard's biggest hit and arguably one of the best pop-punk songs ever. It was the song everyone sang along to and whipped their phones out to record, and WRK did it really, really well. He then finished his set with Virtue, title track from the aforementioned album, and it sounded absolutely lovely.

After a brief set up, Kevin and Anthony of This Wild Life bounded on stage like two energetic puppies in Hawaiian shirts, straight into Concrete from their 2015 album Clouded which was absolutely glorious. One thing I'd like to note about these guys is that they both play various instruments, chopping and changing throughout the set which is both amazing and stressful to watch, but shows how talented they truly are.

Next up came Positively Negative from the new (and utterly outstanding) album, Petaluma, followed by an older single, Puppy Love which is about Kev's dog who he dedicated the song to, asking the crowd to show him photos of our dogs. Back to Petaluma with Westside, which was gorgeous, and then History from Clouded. Throughout all of these songs the energy and happiness radiating from the duo, Anthony in particular with his massive grin, was infectious.

Kev introduced the next song by talking about the band's massive stock of break-up songs, which is true, and then asked if there were any couples in the audience. He picked on two couples to his right and the crowd backed off a bit to create a mini dance floor for them as the band launched into Hold You Here from Petaluma. The whole thing was beautiful, and I really mean that because I've put it in bold font which I never use, only the songs are all in italics and I don't want things to get confusing.

They followed this with Ripped Away which is a reaaaalllly old track, like 2012-old, at which point I just about lost it because I was so happy to hear it live. I bloody love that song. After that, Anthony was moving bits of drum kit around the stage so they could both do some drum beats at the same time as playing guitar and singing (told you) and to fill the time, Kev treated us to a cover of Blink 182's All The Small Things. Absolutely brilliant, actually.

Then it was time for some audience participation as Kev got us to join in with the chorus of Catie Rae, which was one of the first singles they dropped from Petaluma and 100% my favourite song from the album - and not just because Catie sounds like Katy, I promise. Next up they did Kev's favourite from the album, Headfirst, followed by Pull Me Out, a track from their 2016 album Low Tides. The duo finished their set with No More Bad Days, dedicated to Kev's mum, which was just stunning - it's a beautiful song and they really did it so well.

So, really, not a bad word to say - the setlist was a dream, the lads themselves were great fun to watch and the crowd wasn't full of dickheads. There's not much more you can ask for from a gig is there? Okay, maybe getting there on time and bringing your ticket so you can catch the whole thing...

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