The days are getting shorter and it’s almost time to turn the clocks back which means only one thing- summer is over and autumn gig season is about to begin. This cold Thursday in Manchester, Machine Gun Kelly (birth name Richard Baker) is bringing some Cleveland swagger to the North of England. With a stage dressed with metal fences to look like a suburb of Ohio, the fences draped in flowers to represent MGK’s latest release Bloom and a microphone stand that wouldn’t look out of place at a Korn gig, these Mancunians know they’re in for a wild night.
Opening the show with The Gunner, MGK stands atop a podium looking down on his adoring fans who are screaming every line back to him. The singalongs continue with the audience taking the part of Hailee Steinfeld during acoustic pop number At My Best, the lyrics full of emotion and passion and MGK performs with such animation. This is the first time that Machine Gun Kelly has played Manchester and as he mimics the swagger of Liam Gallagher and gushes about Oasis, it’s clear to see that this city had a massive effect on him growing up.
In a real special and touching moment, MGK dedicates a cover to one of his idols growing up; Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, and as the house lights drop and lights from camera phones appear, MGK makes his way to the front of the stage to perform his version of the LP classic Numb– and there isn’t a dry eye in the house. A perfect memorial to a man who clearly was one of his biggest idols in his younger years and someone he was about to tour with in the US when Chester passed, this was a superb tribute with the highest respect.
Before MGK drops into older track Alpha Omega, he asks the crowd if it’s their first time seeing him and his band perform, to which an overwhelming majority of the audience respond. Even though this is the first time for many, they are showing how much they’ve been hungry for an MGK live show properly in the UK. The energy in the room is palpable and the connection between band an audience is great to watch, the crowd have not stopped jumping since MGK graced the stage at an early time of 8:30. There is a slight feeling that the show is possibly choreographed with the musicians appearing from behind the metal staging at particular points, however, this is not a negative- simply showing a tight connection and synchronization between the musicians on the stage. A special mention should go out to drummer JP Cappelletty who is an animal behind the kit.
During Wake and Bake which is almost seen as an interlude to the high intensity of the show, MGK asks for the audience members to throw joints onto the stage as he has to “go to London cos I lost my fuckin’ passport”. As the title may suggest, this song is slightly more chilled out and mellow compared to the rap rock ferocity that has been witnessed so far. Let You Go is a huge single from Bloom and gets easily the biggest reaction from the crowd thus far, and keeping the singalongs rife, MGK drops straight into the radio friendly hit single Bad Things. During the track, MGK jumps to the barrier to get even closer to his fans- to which there’s a real mix of people inside the venue tonight; some in Bring Me The Horizon shirts, others who look like they’re ready for a freshers night at uni.
“You know what I don’t like? Concerts ending. But concerts come back… unless you’re Oasis”
Again another mention of the Britpop heroes, it’s that Manchester thing again.
Another more somber moment of the evening is another track from Bloom; Rehab. The acoustic opening to the track is beautiful and MGK’s clean singing is note perfect, the house lights again are lower but as the track builds, so do the lights. Til I Die is another huge banger and final track and the title of the tour, 27, is an impressive way to finish his set.
It’s so clear to see that MGK is only just beginning his rise to the top, he won’t be playing a venue this small the next time he visits the city. The fact he transcends genres, the elements of metal riffs within the music and his clean singing crossed with vehement rapping and bars for days- there really is no-one around right now doing anything remotely like this. His musicality and passion for life and pure devotion to his fan base is undeniable and will absolutely add longevity to his career, there’s simply only good things and more positivity to come for MGK in the future, keep your eyes peeled for new music next year.
Photos courtesy of Erin Moore | Forte Photography UK |