Live Review: Blue October – O2 Ritz, Manchester 29/04/23

Coming off the back of a bus crash at the start of the tour, forcing some earlier gigs to be acoustic sets only, tonight Blue October are back up and running and set to complete a full show at the O2 Ritz.

As Justin takes to stage wearing his signature black shades and shrouded in moody lights, the night opens with ‘The Kitchen Drawer’ from new album Spinning The Truth Around. With Part I of the album having only been released in October 2022 and Part II due in the summer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the setlist would focus primarily on this album, thereby introducing the new tracks to the audience. However, the Blue October fans in attendance are instead treated to a wide selection spanning the entire back catalogue with nine out of the eleven albums being featured in the setlist.

Switching seamlessly between new and old, classics such as ‘Into The Ocean’ and ‘Italian Radio’ are interspersed with newer material ‘Oh My My’ and ‘The Shape Of Your Heart’. Lead singer Justin Furstenfold is his usual charismatic self, holding the crowd in the palm of his hands whether through his velvety lyrics, dancing or simply conversing between songs. There’s a real air of joyful calm that just exudes in waves through the band, which serves to just sweep the crowd along with them through the night. 

For a band primarily recognised as rock, Ryan Delahoussaye does an expert job of seamlessly blending the electric violin that begs the question of why this isn’t a standard musical element of all rock songs. The musical accompaniments coupled with the poetic lyrics ensures there are more than a few rivers of tears on the fans faces this evening. ‘Hate Me’, despite being almost thirty years old, is a track that has the capacity to resonate with most, but this is sandwiched in with upbeat, sing and dance-along tracks meaning fans experience a plethora of emotions throughout the evening.

With an encore boasting six (yes six!) tracks, the night is finally brought to a close with ‘I Hope You’re Happy’ and the band can know with absolute certainty that yes, every fan is happy and there’s no need to even think about having to hope for it. Authenticity is something this band have in droves and the camaraderie on stage showcases just how much the band love performing making it impossible to not enjoy every second of the gig.

Set List

The Kitchen Drawer

The Way I Used to Love You

This Is What I Live For

Oh My My

Say It

Fight for Love

Into the Ocean

The Shape of Your Heart


Hate Me

Spinning the Truth Around


Shut Up I Want You to Love Me Back


Italian Radio



18th Floor Balcony

The Weatherman

The Worry List

Where Did You Go I’m Less of a Mess These Days

Moving On (So Long)

I Hope You’re Happy

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