Narrow Margin @ O2 Ritz Manchester 25/01/2020
Words & Pictures by Andi Callen. All Rights Reserved
It's unusual to give a support band their very own review, rather than just append it to the headliners, but then not every "support" band is as deserving as Narrow Margin.
Taking the stage to Sham 69's "If The Kids Are United", the audience are already in an expectant mood having been warmed up by the excellent SYFTA from Widnes (another band you're destined to hear more about.)
Dressed all in white, lead vocalist/guitarist Ian Spiller cuts an impressive figure with his back to the crowd, as drummer Jake Etches pounds out the intro to the walk of shame that is Oxford Street, ["the smell of her perfume and another fucking crack in your phone"] and it's 1-2-3-4 and we're off as he spins to face the crowd like a young Joe Strummer. The first 10 rows explode in a frenzy as beach balls are batted around like a summer festival. It may only be late January but it's already taking on a summer feel. Shades of the Clash, Manics, SLF and even The Who come to mind.
By the second song New Crop, there's already people being hoisted shoulder high as the band inject more energy and passion into the mix. Forget wind power you can just plug these boys into the National Grid and power Manchester!
Narrow Margin are incessant, the onslaught continues with barely time to catch your breath, no time for between song small talk, almost as if they're trying to wring every last second out of their allotted.
As the final chord of New Crop fades, we are straight into Brand, with lead guitarist Ben Etches (Jake's twin) looking every inch a rock star in shades, throwing Peter Townsend/Wilko Johnson shapes before taking centre stage, swapping with Spiller half way through, to show he's not just a mean guitarist but a great vocalist too, a young Jake Burns almost.
Drummer Jake seems to dictate the tempo as he's off and running again. Like a pacer in a world record attempt, straight into Louder Than War, a real singalong straight out of the early Manics playbook, which sees Ben's guitar work summon up the ghost of Stuart Adamson before launching into what is arguably their finest song Hey Mister Shareholder. This is angry song writing from those very youngsters who have the most to lose post-Brexit. There is a touch of The Clash - Safe European Home in the vocal refrain.
Urban Hell and Make The Stand follow before the incredibly infectious single Kids Don't Dance brings the set to a shuddering climax.
Impressive and commanding as he is as a front man, this band is about more than just Ian Spiller. These are proper crafted songs complete with powerful melodies and hooks big enough to catch a whale.
Herbie (Bass) and Danny (Rhythm Guitar) are by no means bit part players, each adding to the overall sound, with Herbie adding the occasional vox on some tracks. The energy on stage is just incredible as the interplay between the band members has them grinning their heads off like some mid-90s Hacienda gurners. They are so obviously enjoying this and why not? This is not a band who stand still and stare at their feet, whilst shuffling uncomfortably through the set.
The bar is well and truly set high for The K's to follow. It shouldn't be long before Narrow Margin are spoke of in the same tones and bigger stages definitely beckon On tonight's showing they'll take it all in their stride.
These are no pale indie kids supported by wealthy parents, this is raw melodic punk rock for the new generation terrorists brought to you by the Last Gang In Town.
You can see them live at The Bread Shed on Fri 27th March, but hurry tickets are selling fast. Get yours here