The 2000s style is back; back with a tremendous taste of hardcore rock and downright filthy bass and guitar picks.
New Century Hall in Manchester was the host of household stars, Hard-Fi, who made a serious argument that they are still just as exemplary. Having not toured since 2014 and being relatively off the grid for the most part since, there was a lot of understandable demand for the band, who didn’t let their hiatus halt proceedings.
Hard-Fi were opening up for Neighbourhood Festival, which saw outfits such as The Snuts, The Lathums, Sundara Karma and the flowery Alfie Templeman take to the stage and deliver to the Manchester hopeful once more. Festival season very much goes on.
I strolled into the venue with no previous knowledge of the building, yet as soon as I saw the towering stage, I began to realise just how big Hard-Fi still were, and the pull they possessed. The numbers they attracted did all the talking.
Opening up with ‘Middle Eastern Holiday’, the fanatical energy enlightened me to what this band was really about. A treacherous stage presence and glamour while performing made for a prime display that kicked off Neighbourhood Festival with a bang.
Then came the iconic bass riff that signalled an embroidered tune to all in the room: ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes. It was belted out by way of special celebration to the hundreds in attendance, and this added cover set the room on fire. (Though of course not literally — the services weren’t called).
Flashback to the curation and infancy of Hard-Fi and the legacy that followed, and there was one tune that switched on, like a trigger, the success for the band: ‘Hard to Beat’. Ask any 2000s music fan and they would know it. Hearing it live, in the flesh, was an experience in its own right. Even when on the job* I felt like I couldn’t contain my ability to not jump along.
The encore followed and offered a small breather and break to all the diehards. And sending the gig off with ‘Living for the Weekend’ felt perfect.
The show was executed to its true potential of being groundbreaking for all involved. Having Hard-Fi back meant so much to so many, and now we all hope they’ll stay for good.
Guest gig review contributed by Daniel Caddick
*Press access thanks to SJM Concerts