Seether Live @ O2 Ritz Manchester, 16th October 2017

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Seether Promo Photo

If you listened to a lot of rock radio stations in the early years of the 2000s, then chances are you’ll be familiar with Seether. The South African band made a huge splash, particularly in the US, with massive anthems like Fine Again, Broken, Remedy and Fake It, and have continued going relatively strong to this day; with this year’s Poison the Parish album proving a surprisingly excellent return to form. Now back on the road in the UK to support that album alongside support bands Sons Of Texas and LTNT, we caught up with the tour at Manchester’s O2 Ritz to find out how their material would hold up in a live setting.

Kicking things off for the already rather packed Ritz are hard-rock five piece Sons Of Texas (8), who, unsurprisingly hail from McAllen, Texas and whose live set seems to very much contain an array of riff-heavy groove-laden anthems akin to Black Stone Cherry being fronted by Phil Anselmo. Opener Vestryman immediately seems to enthral the crowd with its powerful swagger, and frontman Mark Morales seems visibly elated by the response as he belts out brilliantly fun vocal hooks with ever-increasing vigour. Perhaps the strongest element of tonight’s showing though, comes with guitarists Jon Olivares and Jes De Hoyos, whose back and forth riffing plays off perfectly with the rest of the band’s performance and showcases exactly how great this kind of rock music can be. As the band finish up with the somewhat Pantera-esque Texas Trim, there doesn’t seem to be a single person in the whole venue without a smile on their face. They might’ve gone into tonight as a relative unknown to many, but Sons Of Texas undoubtedly head off tonight having more than proved their worth to the people of Manchester on this occasion.

Things then sadly appear to promptly fall straight off of a cliff as LTNT (3) take to the stage for a set that can only really be described as a bit of a mess. Seemingly suffering from massive sound problems for almost the entirety of their set, the London three-piece try valiantly to plough on through a set of sludgy-sounding tracks that usually sound somewhere between Faith No More and early Biffy Clyro on record, but are met with a feedback-heavy output from the Ritz’s notoriously hit and miss sound system here, and little more than apathy from the crowd, who seem to be becoming increasingly either bored or completely indifferent to the racket being produced in front of them as time goes on. This more or less completely kills off the band’s momentum before it even gets going from an audience perspective, and it’s tragically telling  that the sheer level of punters appearing to be heading for the bars soon outweighs those who might’ve seemed intrigued as LTNT arrived on-stage. A massive shame, and one that definitely feels like a derailment of sorts, considering what came before.

After that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Seether (5) could do basically anything and feel like kings, however you wouldn’t exactly be correct in that assessment. Despite starting very strongly with a quick-fire combo of new track Stoke the Fire and old favourite Truth, it quickly seems that Shaun Morgan and co. are either having a rough night, or simply aren’t entirely feeling it. Technical gremlins re-emerge just a few songs later too, reducing Morgan’s vocals to a barely-audible whisper despite the man himself clearly fully going for it onstage, as the venue PA blasts essentially nothing but guitar and drums during the likes of Rise Above This and Words As Weapons. This continues on for the vast majority of Seether’s performance too unfortunately, until finally seeming to sort itself out during the more stripped down ballad Broken, with Morgan’s voice finally seeming to hit the massive highs of what he’s capable of on record. A few more stronger performances of Betray and Degrade, Fake It and Let You Down seem to further suggest the greatness still present within Seether in 2017, but it’s not until the band finish off with the all-conquering slab of solid-gold rock that is Remedy that they finally come close to redeeming their mostly-underwhelming set thus far, as the whole room seems to belt out its colossal chorus in unison. On the whole however, it still fails to fully regain what has ultimately felt like quite a lacking set from the post-grunge titans, despite what much of the audience reaction might suggest. An off-night performance-wise perhaps, but at the very least, it remains heartening to see a band with such longevity continuing to craft great records, and play with such enthusiasm to a crowd who clearly still hold a lot of love for Seether.

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