The Slow Readers Club played The Met Bury. What happened?

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen Manchester’s Slow Readers Club now. From pokey rooms above dingy pubs in Leeds, high profile support slots with the likes of Pixies to sold out shows at iconic Manchester venues like the Apollo the band’s ascent has been steady, but by no means unimpressive.

Able to count the city’s mayor Andy Burnham as a fan, Slow Readers are a band who seem to embody the Manchester spirit while avoiding the swaggering arrogance seemingly synonymous with the city’s indie scene. For that reason, tonight feels a somewhat fitting way for the band to warm up for their forthcoming tour, taking to Bury’s Met theatre for an intimate and stripped back show without support.

Arriving at the venue it’s clear intimate is the right word. Taking our places at the back of the smallest room The Met offers, there’s probably just 150 people gathered in front of the tiny stage, and we don’t have long to wait before the four-piece, clad in their traditional black, appear, taking their places on the seats laid out for them. A traditional Slow Readers Club gig this isn’t.

Opening with ‘All the Idols’, the gentle murmur within the crowd drops to silence as frontman Aaron Starkie’s haunting vocals fill the room. Such a stripped back arrangement would undoubtedly feel lost in bigger rooms, but tonight it’s perfect, and everyone here knows in they’re in for something truly special.

“There’s going to be a short interval halfway through tonight,” Starkie announces after the first song. “So if anyone needs a comfort break, ice cream or beer, whatever.” He shrugs before launching into the live debut of recent single ‘Knowledge, Freedom, Power’. Lacking the brass of its recorded counterpart, one would be forgiven for assuming it would lose some impact, but the nature of tonight’s stripped back set allow tracks both old and new to take on a new lease of life, the likes of  ‘Jericho’ and ‘Don’t Mind’ making appearances alongside brand new single ‘Lay Your Troubles On Me’ whilst fan-favourite ‘I Saw A Ghost’ makes for a particularly haunting close to the first half of tonight.

A brief interlude allows for both a beer and a comfort break, though with no sign of ice cream we do with a cigarette and head back inside. Again, there’s little time before the band appear onstage again, teasing the opening notes of early number ‘Block Out the Sun’ before opening with ‘Supernatural’.

Anyone disappointed that the teased track didn’t materialise don’t have to wait long. Receiving the biggest reaction of the night so far ‘Block Out the Sun’ is both sombre and soaring in equal measure. Followed up quickly with another fan-favourite in the form of ‘Forever in Your Debt’, both band and indeed crowd have come into their own here.

At least most of the crowd. A small pocket at the back has clearly drank too much, talking over the band seemingly unaware of what’s going on on stage. “I want to shout something,” one of them announces to their friends, proving just how pointless them being there is.

It’s a shame, as tonight’s set is full of small hiccups that just wouldn’t be noticeable at the bigger venues the band are selling out up and down the country. Back on stage, a stunning ‘On the TV’ sees Starkie encouraging the crowd, allowing for a great call and response moment that sees the track really blossom.

Not a band known for covers, but choosing arguably the exact right moment and exact right track to change that, a surprise outing of The Smith’s ‘There is a Light And It Never Goes Out’ sees the tiny crowd in rapture, generating easily the evening’s biggest singalong and almost drowning out the band on stage. Elsewhere, ‘Lunatic’ is the final number of the evening. Again generating another singalong before the band exit the stage just as quickly as they arrive.

Though something of a short evening, both sets featuring around 6 or 7 tracks, it’s a change from your usual Slow Readers Club shows, allowing fans to get up close and personal and hear a selection of tracks in a way they otherwise wouldn’t. Once one of Manchester’s best kept secrets, now arguably one of the most impressive rising bands in the country, make sure you catch them on one of their forthcoming tour dates, and then you’ll see what all the fuss is about.