Four lads from Wigan stepped onto the stage of Castlefield Bowl on Friday night. Defiant against a stubborn Manchester rain, The Lathums, comprising of lead Alex Moore, dynamic guitarists Scott Concepsion and Matty Murphy, and exuberant drummer Ryan Durrans (accompanied by beautiful back-up singers, violins, and cello) played to a roaring crowd. Now a headliner at the same event where they were previous support acts, this performance was a sure signifier of the band’s ascent and continuing rise within the indie-rock scene.
Sounds Of the City is a pivotal point in Manchester’s music calendar, and with our city being the U.K.’s unofficial music capital, it is a keenly awaited event. For The Lathums, this is their biggest show yet, and the rain couldn’t dampen their spirits. Umbrellas and rain macs lined the crowd as The Lathums joined the stage.
A massive hometown (sold-out!) show and performing at an event with a capacity of 8,000 people could seem intimidating to four young lads still in the early years of their career, but fresh off a set at Glastonbury and with two U.K. top 10 albums under their belt. They are paving a very wide and accessible path for the everyman to forge their way within the music industry.
What I loved about The Lathums is the connection to their roots. Their hometown of Wigan is embedded into their DNA. With Moore telling the crowd that he was ‘bloody buzzing’ and pausing for a sip of tea, this band is proud of where they come from. Proud of being working-class and proud of asserting that indie music in the Northwest hasn’t been left at The Smiths or Oasis. It has a bright future, carved out in shiny lights.
Throughout the whole set, Moore’s gratitude and humility took centre stage (as did his brilliant and hearty vocals). Constantly engaging with the crowd as each song ended, Moore referred to the audience as his ‘loves’ expressing appreciation in his strong Wigan accent for where the band are and where they are going.
The influence of the Northern England post-punk-revival scene is evident and is vehemently respected throughout their discography. From Johnny Marr-esque jangle guitar (from the stylistic and brilliant lead guitarist Concepsion) to bouncy and kinetic choruses (think The Coral) to playing around with ska beats and melancholic ballads. The Lathums lovingly bask in the history of British music, and as they do so, look excitingly on towards its future and their place within it.
A vibrant and dynamic exhibition of their talent, the musicians soared through their set list. When they played Fight On beer cans were flying and flares erupted. As Northern trains passed over the viaduct, their sound was swallowed by the boys on stage.
Lucky Bean was the ultimate feel-good tune – a quintessential U.K. indie track – which saw couples cradling each other as the band demonstrated to the crowd their talent, but also their hearts too. Every member on stage blended into something bigger than individual musicians. They became the music they were playing, they became the history, present, and future of indie music. They became the crowd who watched them so dearly.
In the space of about twenty minutes, there was a graceful transformation from riotous crowd-pleasers like Rise and Fall to an intimate performance between Moore and the crowd. Completely cinematic and orchestral. He sang with an acoustic guitar and the backing of strings, asking the crowd ‘if it could just be me and you for a while.’ You could feel the weight of Moore’s lyricism as the crowd reverberated the words that he sang back to him. As his bandmates joined him back on stage, they hugged him and told him how well he had done. Coming back together to take on the world.
Another moment that shone, so brightly, was when Moore stopped the crowd as a fight broke out during How Beautiful Life Can Be. Expressing his true care for his fans, he elaborated his desire for everyone to look out for each other, and the band began the song again with a completely new sentiment: one of community, care, and belonging with each other through music. As the song goes, ‘let the children see / just how beautiful life can be,’ when we look after each other.
The Lathums give us music that is borne out of small-town life. An eloquent mix of gratitude and pride for where you came from, flecked with a thirst to see what waits for you outside of it. The Lathums embodied the optimism and promise of youth on that stage thoroughly, and as they set to take their career to limits unknown, ‘Wigan’s Likely Lads’ look back with love to the factory-lined skyline of Northern England, showing us that it’s definitely not grim up North.
More information can be found about the band HERE.