Sam Isaac – Manchester Academy

By paul

Sam Isaac/The Xcerts ? Ruby Lounge, Manchester

Whenever going into a venue you get that first impression as to atmosphere, even at a venue such as the Ruby Lounge when you can’t immediately see whether it’s full, empty, or somewhere in-between. I sensed it was deserted and my fears were very accurate, it was in single figures!

As the first act of 4 tonight, ?Jake Flowers? were just starting their set as I entered I was just momentarily thinking how few people were in attendance and the sympathy I have for an artist having to play in front of so few people. The set in general was very typical of a singer songwriter, nice but nothing more. To stand out in this genre you need a truly excellent voice or fantastic lyrics. Jake has neither. It was pleasant without breaking out as anything more. Uninspiring. 2.5/5

The second band tonight, who very shortly follow, Feldspar, are much more of a band makeup. All these guys clearly can play their instruments. The sound is almost jazzy but it works fine for the occasion and having a track called ?Empty Room? they rightfully joke as being appropriate for the moment. Their sound is best explained by stating a Cello, Sax, Keyboard and Guitar (acoustic) are all permanent fixtures. The guys deliver a very calming set but it does lack cohesion. The solos for the most part just don’t fit and seem like an effort to prove they can classically play to a high level. These guys are still young though and they do need a bit of time to decide exactly how they want to sound and what they want to achieve. The Sax player going off stage after 1 song to go to the toilet was a little odd as well. I’ll take that as nerves. 3/5

The Xcerts are the 3rd band on tonight. As soon as the first note is played you can almost feel the crowd wake up after the more becalming music that preceded it. Murray soon brings the crowd much further forward however it’s clear tonight is all about showcasing some new material for this trio. With it being just a 30 minute set though they struggle to get as much in as they would like. Favourites such as?Nightschool? and ?Crisis In The Slow Lane? keep the crowd easily engaged and a chance to get their voices in tune for Sam. I feel these guys are slightly more reserved than previous times I’ve seen them but still have plenty of energy which is without a doubt when they’re at their best. 3.5/5

Finally the main man Mr Isaac makes the stage, exciting but also sad times with tonight being his last ever gig in Manchester. The band as a whole though are really on form. The most surprising thing about the set tonight is how much fun they’re having on stage (the bass player in particular, Sophie). This comes through via some good on stage banter with the audience as well. There is also a good crowd in by now ready to give Sam a good send off. He introduces quite a few of his songs tonight, hopefully this helped for the curious fans in the audience. There were clearly a few. On many occasions the naturally catchy nature of the songs mean the audience can often be caught singing the lyrics to themselves. Who can blame them! We are even treated to a rare play of b-side ?A Cinematic Low?. ?Carousel For Three? to finish was also a great moment as the Xcerts amongst others join them on stage. It’s a real shame tonight is the end of the road but it’s hard not to wish this guy all the best in whatever he chooses to do following this tour. 4/5