The first thing I see upon entering The Cluny tonight is a sign that reads “Millie Manders & The Shut Up, No Ableism, No Ageism, No Fascism, No Homophobia, No Racism, No Sexism, No Transphobia”, which is always a welcome sight (though it’s unfortunate we live in a world where such signs are required).
It was only back at the start of the year, in February, playing to a sold-out crowd in the basement venue of the same building, that Millie Manders and The Shutup were last in Newcastle. Here they are some nine months later, in the bigger, upstairs room, and it’s packed to almost capacity (a testament to the relentless work ethic of the band, as well as an arsenal of phenomenal tunes!)
Just as they did back in February, Sheffield’s Air Drawn Dagger kick off proceedings for the night, and while they were good last time I caught them, they’ve come on leaps and bounds in a relatively short space and time. In the time between appearances here they’ve performed extensively around the country and only last month released their latest EP ‘Songs To Fight The Gods To’.
Maisie Manterfield is a powerhouse of a frontwoman, who, (when she isn’t belting out incredible vocals onstage), is more than comfortable to take herself for a walk amongst the crowd (which always makes for fantastic photos!). Meanwhile, guitarist Lewis Budden and drummer Ross Dore hold down the fort onstage delivering riffs and beats aplenty.
During the break between bands I headed over to the merch desk where Hunt Saboteurs Association, who were on all dates of the tour had set up next to the bands. Again, like the sign that welcomed us to the venue, it was great to see.
Since Millie Manders and Co were last here they’ve been busy; for starters they’ve been writing relentlessly in preparation for a future release, performing at various festivals around the country such as Slam Dunk and Bearded Theory (which btw they played the SAME DAY!)
MMATSU dive straight into recent single ‘Panic’, a call to arms in defence of the planet which gets the room moving right off the bat. MMATSU have an incredible ability to mix powerful messages into their songs packed with bouncing ska-punk and epic choruses – ‘Bacchus’ is another example of this, as Millie has previously stated it’s a track “inspired by all the things we do, but shouldn’t do, when drunk”. With its party “you have another drink” chorus, it also has a deeper meaning that hits a note for some of the crowd.
From every single song there is something for each and everyone in the audience to take something from, the sweat is now rolling down the brow of every single person and the love for the music is tangible. From the oldest like ‘Obsession Transgression’ or the more recent like ‘Rebound’, they just keep coming and the energy never drops one iota, in fact it increases as the minutes go by. All tracks from latest album ‘Telling Truths, Breaking Ties’ are on display tonight, and they all go down an absolute storm, the band, as well as the audience in fantastic form.
‘Poor Man’s Show’ is a scathing reflection of the government, particularly in how their resources are used, or misused in this case: “There’s no more money for the nurses, To do the jobs we need, But apparently there’s trillions, For bombing overseas”, and see’s Millie’s vocals absolutely shine, which they do throughout the entire set. Brimming with hard political and anti-monarchist truths that this audience have no problems with understanding, then we go straight into ‘Right To Life’ a song with a meaning that we as human beings should and must feel empathy with.
Both bands have had brilliant and busy years, and tonight absolutely brought the house down – where they go from here into 2024 is anyone’s guess, but if they want to come back to the toon in another eight months, with the same line-up again, we’ll be there, but I think perhaps we’re going to need an even bigger venue.