Review: Dry The River – Manchester Academy

I first came across Dry The River last year at the Green Man Festival, sat in an open field with glorious sunshine, a perfect “folk” setting. This time however the setting had changed slightly. It was held at the Manchester Academy on a dark Thursday evening; though the sounds of last summer had certainly not been forgotten.

Dry The River have a certain mix of folk and rock which gives the band an interesting sound, not quite wanting to pigeonhole them, and as they played their releases, such as Animal Skins and New Ceremony, the upbeat melodies intoxicated the audience. Each song had a similar format and pace, building gradually, layer by layer the sounds increasing, nearly on the brink of becoming overwhelming. Pete Liddle’s vocals altered from an unpolished, rough round the edges choir boy to a completely untamed choir boy, who’ll shout at the top of his lungs if he wants to, which was executed brilliantly. The subtle sound of the violin which drifted in and out of the playlist, enforced the folky influences of the evening.

For me the highlight of the night was Weights And Measures. With a certain Mumford and Sons element to it, the band stepped forward to perform at the front of the stage and to play the track acoustically, away from the mics. The crowd were silent to start, as they listened to the vocals which were raw and exposed, but at the same time tranquil and calming. As the song progressed towards the crescendo,the speakers kicked in and the crowd were alive and singing along word for word, much to the bands own surprise.

At the end of the gig , I and everyone else I imagine, was somewhat befuddled as to what we had seen. Had we been to see a folk band or a rock band? Soft melodies with some rocky solos (it is uncommon to see an SG guitar at a folk concert), Dry The River know how to span the genres with ease. Either way it was a welcome return for me, and begs the question – they can clearly own a small stage, but  next time and on a larger platform, might there be something different in store? We can only wait and see…

Jess Gartley