The Young Offenders Institute - Manchester Bierkeller - 18.2.05

The Young Offenders Institute come across like a musical version of Shameless. Working class boys who would do anything for their ma, but would just as easily peddle drugs out primary school gates and break your knee caps if you dob em in. Much has been made of the comparisons with the Happy Mondays. I mean, for f**ks sake Tony Wilson's even in the audience tonight, no doubt regaling the boys with time he went to Cambridge. While it's clear they probably blew up pigeons and spent enough money on weed to fund a 3rd world country, they're more steeped in the rock classicism of Oasis than the Mondays eclectic acid fried dance vibes.

"Acid Man" on record sounds like Pink Floyd on helium, live it sounds like a call to arms with a cross generation of relatives from barely sixteen to knocking on fifty shouting "We are the acid man". In Collyhurst (the rough inner-city area of Manchester for non locals) it's all about the family and the community and sticking together. The atmosphere couldn't be any more divided between those from Collyhurst and those out of Collyhurst (i.e. Blowout's regular indie crowd) if they tried.

"The Young Offenders" sounds like Oasis when they were relevant. It's their "Rock N Roll Star", "Live Forever" and "Cigarettes And Alcohol" rolled into one. A un-named tune which sounds like a proto-type Stone Roses tune passes by quietly, before they launch into "Baby Cocaine", The Young Offenders token ballad and one set to propel them into something above and beyond being just another scally manc band. "Jiggy Giro" and "Havin' A Party" return to what they know best and sum up the ethos of the band. "Let Me Out" alludes to the rumoured spell spent in Her Majesty's Pleasure, what starts as a delicate ballad erupts into a wail of "I've done my time, paid the price and now just let me out". Ending on a semi-acoustic version of "Acid Man" they prove why they're one of the most exciting bands to come out of Manchester in years.

Whether the Young Offenders Institute can breakthrough is anyone's guess. This ain't some faux-scally act like The Streets, Lady Sovereign or Goldie Lookin Chain. This is the real deal, it's raw and explosive, and it's got the potential to blow up in yer face the moment you let yer guard down.

Alex McCann

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