LIVE: Issues @ O2 Ritz, Manchester

By Mark Johnson

A week after the release of their second full-length ‘Headspace’, Issues hit the UK for a headlining tour. The new record is high on energy and full of groove and the band waste no time getting stuck into it, opening with new track ‘Coma’. It’s an effective opener, its massive chorus warming the audience’s vocal chords before moving into favourites ‘Stingray Affliction’ and ‘Never Lose Your Flames’, from their self-titled debut.

On record, Tyler Carter’s vocals are so pristine you’d be forgiven for assuming he gets a boost from recording studio trickery, but with a full set of note-perfect songs throughout, it’s clear that pure talent is the real explanation. Co-vocalist Michael Bohn also tries his hand at melodic vocals on ‘Headspace’ to great effect and he executes his parts in equally impressive fashion, adding diversity to his already excellent screamed vocals.

In a live setting the instrumentals are even heavier, inciting plenty of mosh pit enthusiasm from the crowd. ‘Blue Wall’ is arguably the heaviest song the band have created to date and sets off a circle pit that’s every bit as energetic as the band’s onstage athleticism. Bassist Sky Accord maintains an impressive level of energy, fuelled by the infectious slap-bass grooves that shine through the band’s new material, most notably on ‘The Realist’. This track showcases the new record’s entire philosophy in one song and, judging by the huge crowd reception, will undoubtedly be a song that remains forever in the setlist.

The performance halts midway through to overcome a supposed technical difficulty, which allows Carter to serenade the crowd with a solo vocal medley of ‘The Worst of Them’, ‘Princeton Avenue’ and ‘Late‘, and though the technical difficulty seems more of a scripted pause than a genuine problem, the crowd certainly doesn’t complain, collectively singing at the top of its lungs in unison with Carter’s pitch perfect vocals.

Hearing the new record mixed with past favourites highlights the impressive natural progression of ‘Headspace’. There hasn’t been a material change to the Issues sound, but they have refined it and got better at it and on stage this comes across brilliantly. As the set goes on, the barrage of huge choruses and heavy, energetic instrumentals is relentless, demonstrating how strong the band’s playlist of songs has become after only two full-length albums. Just like ‘Headspace’, this headlining tour proves that Issues mean business and they certainly have the ability to pull it off in style.