Welsh rock quartet Straight Lines returned to Manchester with a point to prove.
With two albums behind them and a recently released EP Reflect, the band have ironically cut a slick divide between the aggressive hardcore scene and their more poppy influences without really convincing either party.
The wall of sound from opening support act The People The Poet had no such issues with a gloriously noisy welcome to Sound Control; one of Manchester’s more interesting, if slightly pricey, venues.
In a shallow sea of chequered shirts and half-hearted head bobbing, it was almost impossible for many to take their eyes off the ill-suited disco ball hanging from the centre of the ceiling.
But it didn’t take long for the The People The Poet to regain their attention, the racket made by the scruffy welsh lads scattered around the stage soon had the crowd sporadically tapping their feet along to the drum beat.
Sonically, the band lie somewhere between Kodaline and Kings of Leon.
Benefitting from a charismatic frontman (also brother to a member of Straight Lines and potentially a long-lost twin of American alt-rock star, J Roddy Walston) the lead singer vocally fluttered from saccharine softness to gravelly goodness seamlessly to make this band worth watching.
And instrumentally, they were competent if nothing special. It was a decent start to the evening.
Next up – easycore, pop-punk ensemble Hey Vanity.
Differing from the previous band by taking a metaphorical nose dive from a Kings of Leon-esque sound, to a You Me At Six/All Time Low sound-a-like.
The band’s stage presence and energy were infectious and their unrelenting bouncing really got the crowd fired up.
One band member that was hard to ignore was the drummer – and not just because of his becoming owl t-shirt. They say a good drummer is hard to find, but it seems this band has struck gold.
Within their circle, band could yet have great things to come, but it is unlikely many will be flocking to see their next show in their current guise.
The crowd thickened and the bar deserted as Straight Lines were warmly welcomed to the stage.
Off the back of their new Reflect material, the band, who had previously supported the likes of The Subways and heavy metal legends Motorhead, were very well received.
Despite attendances possibly suffering with Haim playing a sold-out show across the road, but their faithful fans showed up with bells on.
A cameo from the Hey Vanity’s guitarist caused confusion in the crowd, but it was quite apparent that this wasn’t intentional.
Although the lyrics were not always decipherable, the vocal styling was reminiscent of Brian Molko of Placebo.
The sing-a-long chorus track of nitro-fuelled pop-punk anthem Half Gone was a highlight with the more sedate ‘tick tock’ sections drawing in the crowd.
The instrumental build-ups and vocal harmonies were tight and fans did not hesitate to get involved, singing along to the lyrics at every chance they got.
While not groundbreaking, Straight Lines are very middle of the road, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Although their sound was hard to fault, it is a somewhat minor problem that perhaps the most interesting thing about Straight Lines is their spectacular facial hair.
Overall, their stage presence was a bit flat. In comparison to the support bands, they lacked physical energy and didn’t make as much of an impact as they could have.
In the step up from side act to main event, Straight Lines struggle to convince.
While they were obviously not running on all cylinders with a borrowed guitarist, there was little here to compel any agnostics to seek out more by the end of the show.
It seems Straight Lines may have veered off-track.
Image courtesy of Straight Lines, with thanks