Live Review – Luke Royalty And Sweets At Night and Day Cafe, what happened?

The night began with a mellow, Loyle Carner-esque performance from Finnerz, who showed off the set and gave a really interesting dimension to the performance, propelling Finnerz’s lyrical storytelling to another level.

Sterling Press followed with their trademark Britpop-tinged-indie, which very quickly intrigued the crowd, bringing them to the front almost instantly. They began the set with their first two singles, ‘Very Fun Times’ & ‘Lots of Noise’, before diving into unreleased ‘Las Vegas’, a slightly punkier number that drew the crowd in further, creating a real buzz in the room. Their upcoming single, ‘What Would You Do?’ came next, really giving the audience something to shout about, packed with scuzzy riffs and powerful vocals, punctuated by a sarcasm heavy, scathing critique in the middle eight.
A flurry of unreleased songs follow before we reach the end of their set, with recent releases ‘Daisy’ & fan favourite ‘Plastic Bag’, an energetic anthem to close.

Following on from his headline set at Oporto in Leeds the night before, alternative punk rapper Sweets arrived to a rousing reception from the Manchester crowd. He opened with his 2020 single ‘Ashtray Cowboy’, and immediately the atmosphere in the room shifted, a new energy that embodied the punky nature of the music took over.

By the time he reached his second single ‘Yellow’, that vivacity was no longer contained, the bodies that occupied the room were loving every moment and making no attempt to hide that, and neither was Sweets. He mentioned on various occasions how thankful he was to have the opportunity to perform to everyone, a truly sincere message, and one never more pertinent than when we came to the unreleased ‘All My Heroes’, which tackles men’s mental health in a very personal way. This felt like a very important moment, not only for Sweets himself but for the crowd, as a more sombre mood took over the room during those two or three minutes.

He returned to normal service, rousing the crowd with his infectious energy and fantastic lyricism, before we landed on the closing number, his next single, ‘Crack Baby’. This was undeniably the highlight of the night, and a tune to look out for – A powerful message, a passionate storyteller and a crowd hanging on every word. Sweets is unmistakably someone you have to see live, with absolutely no regrets.

Finally, we have Luke Royalty who, fresh off of his set on Saturday at A Stone’s Throw Festival, brought a fantastic mix of indie-pop and R&B to close our Manchester evening. He began with 2021’s ‘Stay Gold’, an upbeat bop that got the crowd warmed up, before diving into his latest EP, with ‘alright?’, ‘commuter’, ‘brighter mourning’ & ‘32/ slide in’. All fantastic songs in their own right, but my personal favourite would have to be ‘commuter’, closely followed by ‘32/ slide in’ – both hugely self-aware, bordering on self-deprecating, and demonstrations of the breadth of Luke’s talent.

Backed by his fantastic band, he has a dominant stage presence, keeping the crowd very much where he wants them, which continues throughout ‘I Do’, & ‘Blue Peter’, which is a message to his hometown friends from Darlington. He finishes off with ‘I Could Get Used To This’, a rousing anthem featuring Sweets, which saw Luke make his way off stage to enjoy the end of the night with the crowd, a fitting end to a fantastic evening.