Live Review: Ed Harcourt And Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats – Manchester Apollo

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Following the release of their debut self titled record last summer, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats have been on the road spreading hip shaking soul across the Atlantic. Their recent stop over in the UK has stayed true to this ethos as the band kicked off Friday night with an immersive live show at Manchester’s O2 Apollo.

As the support act of the UK leg of The Night Sweats’ tour, Ed Harcourt took to the stage for a short set, mainly focused on the release of his 7th studio album Furnaces – a slow burning record filled with a relentless angst that was certainly relayed onto his live set. Harcourt’s performance of Occupational Hazard displayed a skilled working of the stage in which he took on the role of drummer, keyboard player, guitarist and vocalist. Getting through the set with musical sections on loop, his sole presence on stage as a multi-instrumentalist gradually built up an air of gratitude from within the audience. For a majority of his half hour performance, Harcourt managed to keep the audience fixated with moments such as his incredibly personal closing performance of Until Tomorrow Then Ends, which captured what has historically been Harcourt’s love for an alternative take on eternal despair.

Following Harcourt’s passion-driven performance, The Night Sweats launched into their set with an extended jazz intro to I’ve Been Failing, leaving room for a little more extra charm that might have been held back from the studio recording. With the Night Sweats, there isn’t a need to gradually build up to an euphoric moment at the end of the evening. Nathaniel Rateliff’s success with the Night Sweats is partly due to the fact that their music demands participation, and the subsequent performances of I Need Never Get Old and Look It Here brought with it louder cheers and new dance moves to keep up to.

Twenty minutes into their set and we came to an agreement that whoever was still standing still must have wandered into the wrong venue. Watching the seven piece band take full ownership of the stage is truly a sight to behold. When he wasn’t delivering sturdy vocals, Nathaniel Rateliff led the crowd with moves taken right out of James Brown’s handbook. Not ones to be left behind, the band skilfully brought each song to life, delivering incredible bass sections and horns that elevated each corner of the venue. A special mention goes to keyboardist Mark Shusterman who managed to multi-task as the band’s personal hype man throughout the night.

Not forgetting his background as a folk artist, Nathaniel Rateliff took to the stage by himself to offer a stripped back version of some of his older material without losing the connection with the audience. In the same vein as Ed Harcourt’s dedication of Last Of Your Kind, Nathaniel Rateliff’s solo set on stage included a soft tribute to Leonard Cohen with a cover of Chelsea Hotel #2, a poignant reminder of the magic that has recently left the world.

With the band back on stage for the concluding segment, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats closed off the night with an extended version of the most popular track from their self-titled debut album, S.O.B, which ended the night on a spectacular high by successfully replicating a whiskey parlour atmosphere in a 3000-strong crowd.

Simi Abidakun