Babyshambles / The Holloways - Manchester Academy 1 - 12.12.06

The Holloways are one of those bands that have been cruelly overlooked by the media in the last few months. Sure they may get a paragraph or short review here and there, but the band are really deserving of more than just an afterthought. Tonight they're supporting former walking car crash Pete Doherty and Babyshambles, but on the basis of tonight's set alone and their respective debut albums it should be the Holloways that are the headliners here.

Although the band have been lumped in with the North London music scene when you look past the accents The Holloways have as much in common with the Waterboys, The Pogues and The Levellers to name just a few. Virtually everyone has heard "Generator" with it's early Jamaican Reggae influences, it sounds like something that could be released on Damon Albarns Honest Jon record label. "Two Left Feet" takes in all of that and then adds English folk music to the mix while "Dancefloor" is a more straight up punk rock track reminiscent of the later Clash records.

With much of tonight's audience here simply for the tabloid aspects of Doherty story it's left to the real music fans down the front who throw away their trilby's and pogo to one of the most underrated bands in the UK. The Holloways in the long term are going to be one of those bands having the last laugh.

After a blink and you'll miss it set from I Am Kloot's Johnny Bramwell, Doherty takes to the stage at the relatively early time of just after 9pm. With many expecting Babyshambles to repeat their last Manchester Academy performance and turn up at 11 it means that much of tonight's sold out audience aren't in attendance for the first half of tonight's cleaned up Babyshambles set. Doherty's noticeably clean with objects flying at him throughout tonight's set and him being able to grab them with a clarity so with none of the drama of speaker towers falling over or him not turning up it gives us the first real chance to focus purely on the music.

Even with the Libertines, Doherty was not the genius they made him out to be. Sure there were occasional moments of genius and their final swan song "Can't Stand Me Now" was probably the most honest song ever committed to the recording desk. The Babyshambles output has at best been patchy and while "Killamangiro" and "Beg Steal & Borrow" are amongst the best he's written the likes of "F*ck Forever" simply don't hit the spot. Even most of the recent EP of which a number of tracks are played tonight really sound like the sort of songs that should be saved for the Pete Doherty Boxset when if he's still alive all the money has run out.

Designer Magazine was perhaps the only magazine in the country who would have loved to see one time Babyshambles member General Santana come out on the road with them for this tour because it at least would have added a new dimension to the band. However what we were left with was musically shambolic and with Doherty cleaned up for the time being the only thing to blame is the man himself rather than his addiction

Alex McCann

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