Spanish Love Songs and Pkew Pkew Pkew Live at Soup Kitchen, Manchester, May 8th

After months of bubbling hype and a co-headline tour with Ducking Punches last November, Spanish Love Songs returned to Manchester’s Soup Kitchen with a victory lap for their breakthrough record, Schmaltz.

Main support came in the form of the excellent Pkew Pkew Pkew (8), the Canadian punk band currently touring their sophomore effort Optimal Lifestyles. Pkew Pkew Pkew gave a thrilling performance, embodying the flamboyant, fun nature of their music effortlessly. From the opening strains of Prime Minister Of Defense, taken from their self titled debut, to the dying shouts of Asshole Pandemic, the band impressed.

With stage presence that made the audience laugh, smile and party the whole way through, Pkew Pkew Pkew had the act of putting on a gritty-fun pop punk show down to a fine art. Outside their stage performance, the tunes were more than enough to showcase their prowess. With power-pop melodies, doo-wop vocal interplay and cutting riffs, Pkew Pkew Pkew have the entire package.

Up next were the evenings headliners, Spanish Love Songs (9), who came on to a rapturous reception, an instant singalong erupted to Nuevo, the opening track from Schmaltz.

When the crowd in unison sang “is there any way to give a shit, wake up in the morning without taking a hit,” it set the tone for the next hour or so. Vocalist and guitarist Dylan Slocum beamed out at the crowd: “We’re halfway round the world, and you guys are amazing,” he grinned, and you genuinely believed the happiness (and sweat) that was already pouring out of him. By the time the band returned for an encore, Dylan’s once light-blue shirt was dyed a deep navy with sweat, a clear indication of the power and passion that the band put into this music.

The set covered most of Schmaltz, with just a few tracks lobbed in from elsewhere. These included track taken from their new EP (Losers) and Vermont, a tune from their 2015 record Giant Sings The Blues. The sweetest surprise of the set however, came in the form of a cover of Phoebe Bridgers’ Funeral, a folksy singer songwriter, writ large with pop-punk energy.

The room was filled with pointing fingers and hearts on sleeves from the off, but Spanish Love Songs best trait of the night was to continue to capitalise on it. From song choice to stage presence, everything crescendoed with the final main set song Beer and Nyquil, which saw crowd-surfers leap towards the band and pints and emotions spilling awkwardly around the room.

Safe to say, when this band returns, it will be in a bigger venue than the 200 cap Soup Kitchen.

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