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The Sleepy Jackson

Manchester Academy 3 - 12.10.03


(Review and Pictures by Laura Gintis and Kat-Y-pie)

Sleepy Jackson’s "The Lovers" has been a favourite in the Gintis household the past couple of months and has rarely been off Carl’s CD player, which is only annoying because he didn’t buy it and it’s such a long way to his room to retrieve it EVERY DAY. An emotionally charged record by a troubled band and lead singer/songwriter Luke Steele (he allegedly sacked the bassist and guitarist last year after a tour of their native Australia). Stories abound about Luke’s mental state, he has admitted to having alcohol problems in the past but now he’s "found God" (much like Cannon and Ball) and everything’s going to be fine. Well, that’s good news then.

We arrived half way through the second support band due to having gone to the pub round the corner for a pint of cheap and fairly disgusting "Crystal" lager, which we drank whilst surrounded by Grannies in miniskirts dancing to Barry White. Consequently we completely missed the first support, who were The Cribs and not, rather disappointingly The Crips- the LA street gang, who we’d hoped might be giving an impromptu performance. The second support were The Delays. They looked promising merely due to the singer’s nifty stripy scarf. However they were a big pile of dogwank. They were soon over though and on came The Sleepy Jackson.
Gig kicked off with "Don’t You Know", which was an excellent opener, though Luke’s voice was showing the strains of the relentless touring they’ve been doing over the past few months. Any fears that we had of the gig being a slightly depressing experience (the album is dedicated to and hugely influenced by the death of Luke’s friend afterall) were expelled by the sight of Steele postulating in an almost Darkness fashion at the members of his replacement band, which included an amazing drunken drummer who looked not unlike Har Mar Superstar and a hero of a bassist who played on despite wearing a temporary cast on his left wrist and invited us all the "emergency room" after the gig.

A couple of new songs then "Good Dancers", the current single, drawing many comparisons to George Harrison, but to my mind has all the live beauty and grandeur of The Flaming Lip’s "Do You Realise?" but without the fake blood and bunny costumes. Then "Come to This", which inevitably had me filling up with tears and having to be consoled by a Carl hug.

Then it all ground to a halt, with a confusing freakout 5 songs into the set. The drummer came out from behind his kit to sign the bassist’s arm cast and then returned to his drums, taking the alternative route of climbing over them. Marlboro’s and Kronenbourg’s were passed around on stage, putting paid to those vicious rumours about Luke being teetotal. He then continued for the next 10 minutes to play his guitar with a knife and fork. Hmmm, generally confused and wondering whether this bit was actually planned we were relieved when the rest of the band left the stage and Luke carried on acoustically for a couple of new songs. One of which being a heartbreaking song about "losing a friend", which instigated a massive, drunken group hug and slurred "I f*cking love you"’s between our ramshackle posse. Awww…

They managed to pick it up and by the penultimate song "Rain Falls for Wind" all had been forgiven with me even hearing Dave Gintis comment on it being "The best song ever written". They finished the set with "Vampire Racecourse", one of the most upbeat songs from the current album, sending everyone home happy.

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