bar stool preachers live at Manchester Academy


So on a rainy night in Manchester, I made my way to Academy 3 for Brighton based punk & Ska band The Bar Stool Preachers December tour with Kerrang Radio.

Bypassing the Christmas lights, the stress of the horde of Christmas shoppers and heading for a totally relaxing night of pure ska & Punk, I wasn’t expecting to kick off my slippers and put my feet up though, as I knew the Preachers were going to put on a damn good energetic performance thrown in with a bit of Christmas spirit and Bar Stool Preacher charisma.

Getting settled into the pit area, the crowd behind had started to build up into a rock-solid sea of BSP fans. The stage set and the cleverly designed cover of their highly acclaimed third album Above the Static, released earlier this year, emblazoned on the bands base drum skin quite surreal but totally effective.

So on one of their last gigs of 2023, The Bar stool Preachers opened in Manchester with the rock trio legends that are Greg Norton, Finny McConnell and Jamie Oliver (Hüsker Dü, The Mahones and UK Subs) forming UltraBomb, a nice little build up and a legendary welcome and straight in with their album title Time To Burn.

No strangers to the stage these guys were pure magic, briefly pausing to point out the rather creative Mohican sported by one of the crowd, made entirely from miniature Christmas trees and lit up like Blackpool Illuminations. “Let’s get this guy Viral” … Totally killer night from these guys and they certainly extruded the energy, with Greg throwing out high powered jumps throughout the set. You expect nothing less than pure adrenaline from UltraBomb. The set finished with Finny jumping into the pit area and encouraging the crowd into solo rifts on his guitar.

So, on step The Bar Stool Preachers, well not quite… Let’s get the build-up going first, the BSP family expect nothing less than true showmanship from these guys and after a short pause and a piano intro, on step the lads with a clearly noticeable Karl Smith on crutches, making his way to a strategically placed chair, due to three days prior suffering a broken leg, wishing you a speedy recovery by the way Karl.

From the off you get the impression that The Bar Stool Preachers have an infinity with Manchester and the Preacher family had certainly arrived in the building.  Tom Mcfaull proclaiming that at the very start of BSP history they had performed in Manchester to a crowd of twenty.

A surprising proclamation due to the densely packed crowd that was in front of me.  The band ooze charisma and Bungle aka Karl Jeffery as always uses his cheeky charm to get the crowds going. Giving us a blend of old school Ska , punk and slowing down to a little bit of soul these guys know how to get the crowd going. Throw in a bit of crowd participation and a good old dollop of knees up and that’s The Bar Stool Preachers.

So, get your hands above your head and get clapping as the set ends with All the Broken Hearts and the band leave the stage to the shouts of encore from their loyal fan base. Well of course they did, and the set slowed down a notch for Toms’ solo performance of Lighthouse Keeper with Alex Hay on keyboard and if you are going to end a show you end it on the eponymous and synonymous classic Bar Stool Preacher and the band wishing us a Happy Christmas and New Year.



Photos by Craig Szlatoszlavek

Words by Gisella Szlatoszlavek