Photos / Review / Interview: Alvarez Kings in Manchester, UK

Who: Alvarez Kings, Foxglove, Hoverbored, Prowles

Where: Night & Day Cafe, Manchester, United Kingdom

When: February 3, 2018

For those that don’t know night and day café, it is a small venue with a relaxed feel to it, in the heart of Manchester’s  centre in the U.K. On the third of February 2018, I attended a concert there with the intention of writing this concert review.

That night, Alvarez Kings were headlining for the second time in their career as a band.  Alvarez Kings are an alternative indie pop band consisting of four men from around Sheffield, Yorkshire and have been performing as a band since around 2011.

Alvarez Kings consist of Simon Thompson (Lead Singer & Guitarist), his brother – Paul Thompson (backup vocals, bass guitarist and keyboardist), Sean Parkin (backup vocals, guitar), and Rich Walker (Drums, Samples, Pads).

Since their formation, they have quickly gained momentum and have supported a variety of other musicians and bands including PVRIS, K Play, Melanie Martinez, Echosmith and recently Switchfoot on the second European tour in 2017.  Which is how I discovered them.

When I found out that Alvarez Kings were playing this concert, I was curious to know if they were as good as I remember them being on the European tour.

During the concert, Hover Bored, Prowles and Foxglove supported Alvarez Kings. Before this concert, I knew nothing about the other supporting bands. So, this concert also gave me the opportunity to discover and listen to bands that were previously unknown to me.

Doors opened at 7:30 pm to at first a very small crowd of approximately around 80 people. As the night progressed, the size of the crowd did increase to approximately just over one hundred people. The atmosphere, from the crowd, I felt, for the whole night, remained relaxed.

The first band to play were Hover Bored who are a four piece all male band from Manchester, have been going approximately a year and a half, and have a grunge-pop/rock vibe.

Despite Hover Bored’s short existence, this band really impressed me. They were enthusiastic, had catchy grungy rock sound (sometimes adding an alternative twist to their sound as a band), and I also liked that their lead vocalist, had at times growly vocals.  I particularly enjoyed their last song, “Skyfall”. I did feel, however, that they needed to work on their stage presence and interaction with the crowd.  However, I’m sure that with time and practice, that this will come. Overall, this was a great performance from them.

Next, to perform as a four piece all male band from Salford, Manchester called Prowles. With growly vocals, they had a heavy rock vibe to their sound.  As to regards to the vocals and their sound, it felt like a wave of sound. It was like a heavy set of waves coming crashing into the shore, followed by a set soft calm wave. However, just when I thought that there was a break in the set of heavy waves of sound, it came back louder and even stronger than before. In particular, I noticed this on their last song, “Sinkhole”.  I really enjoyed the sound that came from the Prowles, however; again I thought that they needed to improve on their stage presence and interaction with the crowd.

The next band on stage was Foxglove. Foxglove, are four-piece alternative rock band from Manchester. The band consists of Abi White (vocalist & guitarist), Ryan Croney (guitarist), David Acosta (bassist) and Liam Croney (Drums and pads).

Listening to the music felt like a melodic mixture of a bag of various sweets. Some songs, I thought were satisfactory, and others that I really enjoyed.  Foxglove had lots of energy about them, especially from Abi, their lead singer (who said that girls couldn’t rock!).

One criticism I do have of the performance of this band as to regards their stage presence during this concert, is for example, during a song or two, I felt that they focused too much attention towards each of their bandmates instead of towards the crowd. However, it was a pretty decent performance from this band. Especially, as regards to the high-performance energy of their lead singer.

Lastly, and what I’d been really waiting for – Alvarez Kings. Alvarez Kings came onto intro music that reminded me of outlaws in the wild west of America. Which is actually quite ironic, as they share their name with an old-school South American gang.

Their performance and stage presence was pretty full of energy and was entertaining to see. For example, it was great seeing Paul Thompson play his bass on the edge of the stage.

I felt that their stage presence was a great balance between involving and interacting with the audience and having fun amongst themselves. One thing in particular, that I enjoyed and found entertaining, was the fun camaraderie that they occasionally displayed amongst each other. For example, when Sean Parkin (backup vocals, guitar) made his way to the back of the stage to play a prank on Rich Walker (Drums, Samples, Pads) by picking up a drumstick and hitting the cymbals several times during one of the songs.

During their setlist they played a mixture of melancholy melodic tunes such as “Run from You”, “Torture and the Tears”, “Somewhere in Between”, “Fear To Feel”, and insanely catchy tunes such as “Picking Up The Pieces”, “Sleep Walking, Part Two”, “Cold Conscience”, “Tell Tale Heart”, These last two tunes, in particular, BECAUSE they were SO catchy, stayed in my head for several days after the concert!

Towards the end of their time on stage, Alvarez Kings played, “The Other Side Of Sadness” which was a DEEPLY moving and a heartfelt performance! Especially as before they played this song, the lead singer Simon Thompson, told the story behind the song. He explained that he had written this song after a close friend of his had sadly committed suicide. In total, Alvarez Kings played 12 songs. Some of these, I already knew, and some, like “Postcards from Berlin”, were less well known to me.

One criticism I have of Alvarez Kings’ performance is that sadly their balance of excellent melancholy melodic and catchy tunes was sadly cut short by the venue. The venue requested that Alvarez Kings stop playing so that a DJ system could be set up. Therefore, they were unable to play any songs that they had prepared for their encore! This left me with the feeling of being thirsty and parched and wanting to drink in more of their blend of melancholic melodic music, the catchy tunes, and their entertaining performance.

After their performance, I briefly quickly spoke separately to both Simon Thompson and Sean Parkin.

I briefly spoke to Simon about his performance during “The Other Side Of Sadness”. Simon said, “ I always find it difficult to play and perform this song! I always find it emotional! I always well up just before playing it! It’s a very personal and special song for me! I truly believe though that my close friend is looking down from somewhere above. It’s like he was there with us!”

I also spoke to Sean Parkin about the camaraderie and friendships within the band. Sean talked about this relationship. He said, “There are not JUST two brothers in this band! We are ALL brothers!”

It was obvious to me, after these brief conversations, that the bond within this “band of brothers” is a very strong and special one. I for one, hope that this bond, that these friendships within the band will last a lifetime.

So, what’s next for Alvarez Kings? Well, I asked Simon Thompson about this, and he simply commented, “Well, we’ve got plans coming up for some dates to play concerts in Europe.”

Since this short conversation with Simon, I have since learned that tour dates have been planned and have been released, so far, for dates in Germany in April and May.

This concert attendee is CERTAINLY looking forward to the next chance of drinking in more music from Alvarez Kings!

Overall, it was a great and entertaining night, and I rate this concert seven out of ten.

For further information about Alvarez Kings tour dates go to alvarezkings.com I CERTAINLY will be keeping an eye out for their return to Manchester and around the northwest of the U.K!

Photos and post by Jude Tolson

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