Madchester isn’t dead.
It’s just injured.
As with any past cultural phenomenon, there are those who are nostalgic, those who were born after it and recreate it with a halo tint based on stories and footage of the glory days, and those who just never left it.
And last night, they were all in the same room.
What was once rebellious and edgy now came off as cliché and almost like a parody.
That being said, I couldn’t fault the musicianship of any of them. James Gilmore’s vocals were on point, the records were class, and Luke McConnell was shredding the guitar with the same energy as a firehose on the loose. Overall, their sound definitely filled you with a heartwarming spirit, but there was still something that bothered me.
I’ve been processing the show for a while now and couldn’t work out exactly what it was that was missing, but I think it’s as follows.
The presence didn’t match the crowd. I understand it’s their role to take the audience from A to B, but there were some awkward moments in there. Like when Gilmore smashed a mic stand in front of a spaced-out crowd that was happily tapping away, and as such was followed by two songs of echoing feedback. Then repeatedly yelling ‘fuck you’ to the people standing at the back.
And then they proceeded to play No Violence.
Imagine your having a wholesome Christmas dinner and Grandad suddenly stands up and yeets the turkey into the garden, similar vibes.
It could very well have been a crowd that was impossible to work with; there wasn’t a huge amount of reciprocation and the levels definitely rose throughout the show.
I really don’t want to dislike Rolla. In fact, I wanted to really like them, and I’m not going to write them off. They just need to put down the How to Be a Rockstar handbook, slightly distance their identity from being so closely connected to Manchester, and take a leap into their own arena.
They’re a new band looking to make their mark, so now comes the pivotal point. Do they continue down the path that’s been carved and carved again since the late 80s, or do they pick up the courage to use their newer inspirations and form them into the unique sound that I know will be brewing within them?