The Beatsteaks / Echo Freddy - Manchester Academy 3 - 3.4.04

Echo Freddy are the band that are going to reshape Manchester's musical landscape forever. They come from a generation too young to jump on the Oasis bandwagon and when this band breakthrough to the mainstream they're going to do for Manchester what Lostprophets have done for Wales. Growing up on a diet of Foo Fighters, Green Day and the punk pop of Bowling For Soup their influences are as disparate as post-hardcore underground acts through to Backstreet Boys and Westlife. Part of the DIY rock scene in Manchester which is taking the spotlight away from the Northern Quarter and into venues such as Retro Bar, Star & Garter and Satans Hollow, this is the bands largest gig to date and if they're nervous it certainly doesn't show. "Only Yesterday" sounds like the Jams "Going Underground" covered by Foo Fighters with Eddie Vedder on vocals, "Katze Haare" contains the sort of key changes usually reserved to the last 30 seconds of every great pop record you've ever heard, except that Echofreddy place it 30 seconds from the start and create a pogo-ing frenzy down the front with the people who've actually turned out to see the support act rather than the headliners. Echo Freddy could just be that band which not only fill stadiums in the UK, but also actually go on to do what every other British band tries and fails - Echo Freddy could break the States with the right label behind them!!!

The last time the Beatsteaks played Manchester singer Arnim ended a mind-blowing performance literally surfing a sea of hands on the top of his guitar case. They're the sort of band who exist out of the confines of the music press and therefore avoid the trappings of whatever happens to be popular at the time. While tonight isn't exactly sold out there's a sizeable audience made out of German students and the more adventurous music fan ageing between 15 and 50. If "New Targets" was their overtly commercial record, then new album "Smack Smash" returns with a more eclectic set of songs that owe a great deal to British bands such as the Clash as well as the ska bands on the Two Tone label. If the ghosts of Joe Strummer ("Hello Joe") and Nirvana (the bands cover of " ") lay heavy on the music, the performance is more lightweight with Arnim dothing his cap to none other than Suggs from Madness. The stage moves are uncanny and hark back to the days of "Baggy Trousers" and "Our House". It's this dual personality that makes the Beatsteaks such an exciting proposition - they realize you can be serious and have fun at the same time and even though the set is pulled predominantly from "Smack Smash", an album that has been in the shops just under a week, the energy level doesn't dip throughout.

Tonight gig saw two bands on the fringes of the rock scene, but it can only be a matter of time before both bands breakthrough.

Alex McCann

Beatsteaks Photo's by Karen McBride -

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