It’s been 15 years since The Polyphonic Spree released their iconic debut album ‘The Beginning Stages Of…’ and 2015 calls for a 15th Anniversary tour where we will be treated to the album in its entirety. They’re toured the UK and Europe travelling all over, far from their hometown of Dallas, Texas. The unforgettable robes of a band that aim to create an image leaves them also being typecast as “choral rock”. This is quite narrow-minded in a world where, to be honest, The Polyphonic Spree created a whole genre of their own.
Tonight’s support band hail from Dublin, Ireland and are named No Monster Club. As I enter Manchester Academy’s basement their tunes are already rip-roaring through the walls. No Monster Club have a variety of animated yet clunky songs. Everything is very mish-mash and unrefined, for a band who have been playing for many years, it’s very unimpressive. Most songs are quite generic, with more than one song chorus focusing around “la la la” or “woah oh ohh”. Apart from their onstage banter regarding Mancunian vs Liverpudlian rivalry and the Trippy Daisy cover that featured a surprise glockenspiel solo from Tim DeLaughter, there was nothing particularly enjoyable about this set.
An excruciating half an hour wait with one of the worst DJs I’ve ever encountered builds a fire of excitement within me for tonight’s headliners. They enter the stage not a minute later than 9pm, appearing like my heroine angels in their original white robes to save me from bass-heavy DJ hell. It’s perfectly possible that The Polyphonic Spree do possess magical powers, as fitting all 15 members onto a small stage in a students’ union is no mean feat.
Once everyone is settled and the crowds’ cheers die down, the soft introduction of ‘Have A Day/Celebratory’ begins, as a sweet and cherished flute melody drifts through the room. Backed by 4 female vocalists, Tim DeLaughter’s voice hasn’t worsened or lost any of its original charm in these 15 years as he croons. The choir is joined regular by a 300-strong crowd belting “Hey! It’s The Sun! And it makes me shine!” Even after through half the set, it is clear DeLaughter puts every ounce of energy and charisma into the performance. His vitality is infectious, ‘Hanging Around A Day part 2’ sees more middle aged men and women jumping around like it’s their last minute on this Earth than has ever been witnessed. Hands punch the air and limbs flail uncontrollably, a more joyous atmosphere could not be possible right now. DeLaughter leaps into the crowd for the end of ‘Soldier Girl’ resulting in a sit down circle around him
The band consists of drummers, guitarists, vocalists, violin, flute, cello, glockenspiel, trumpet, trombone and every other percussion instrument you can think of. The layers of textures and timbres The Polyphonic Spree can create with such a variety of musical tones and abilities is what allows them to create such uplifting and passionate music. Their most famous and featured track ‘Light & Day’ comes to a close and the band leave the stage, with Tim promising “we’ll be back in just a few minutes”. An outfit change occurs during this interval, with men and women wearing matching different patterned tunics. Tracks from 2004 album Together We’re Heavy and other selections such as a cover of The Monkees ‘Porpoise Song’ all go down a storm with this unbelievably crazy crowd. The night ends with an acapella chorus of “Hey, it’s the sun!” with the whole band and audience, the goose bumps on my arm say it really has been one to remember.