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Gig Review : Polyphia – Manchester

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Review & Photography by Sian Connolly for MPM

Well, the sun is shining this lovely Saturday afternoon as I make my way over to the city of Manchester for a show that hundreds, even thousands of us have been eagerly waiting for; the guitar gods of our generation, Polyphia.

Now, if you know what a guitar is, you almost certainly know who Polyphia are and even more so, you should definitely know the man, the myth, the legend himself, Tim Henson. You’ve heard of wizards, right? Well, this guy creates enough magic through his strings to sell out tours instantly.

We’re talking both America and Europe selling out within minutes and boy did it show when I turned up at the o2 Ritz tonight. Hundreds lined the streets, waiting for seven o’clock to hit. How did it go? Let’s dive into it, shall we?

Being one of the first in the venue, I was there to witness the frantic running for the barrier, the endless queue of fans ready to grab their merch and well, the ones who headed straight to the bar – I don’t blame them, we had a long hour to wait before warm-up artist, Johan Lenox took to the stage.

Soon came eight o’clock, the lights went dark and two masked violinists appeared on the stage. Not far behind them, another anonymous character appears behind a laptop, hyping the crowd up. Soon enough, Lenox runs out onto the stage in some awesome, cargo-looking parachute pants, his style clearly giving us alternative hip-hop vibes.

The mood changes with each song on the setlist, starting off bassy and playful then swiftly moving into a more heartfelt tone. In between songs, Lenox chats away to the crowd, telling us stories of his musical experience and artists he’s worked with back in LA.

The audience cheers as he thanks the headliner, Polyphia, for giving him such an amazing opportunity. The band then dive into the last few songs of the set as the crowd happily dances away whilst Lenox struts his stuff on stage.

Now, this last song was something of a masterpiece. We’ve heard of songs being three minutes long, maybe four, five or six even. Well, Lenox takes the average song length and doubles, even triples the length to a whole fifteen minutes of pure talent.

A beautifully constructed, classical piece showing us just how much talent Lenox has. Whilst he gracefully plays the piano, flipping through the sheets of music, the violinists follow his lead as he conducts their pitch. The audience watched in awe without making a single sound. We were all entranced in this mini orchestral performance and so was Lenox. He was fully immersed in his fifteen-minute piece as though he was in another world.

The audience roared as the song came to an end and Lenox was soon snapped back into reality. What a show.

Now this is where my excitement really kicks in and I’m sure everyone else is feeling the same. The room goes black and the o2 Ritz echoes with the screams of the crowd as my personal favourite, “Genesis”, the first track of their recent album, “Remember That You Will Die”, starts to play over the speakers.

One by one, each band member appears on stage, Scott LePage on the guitar, Clay Gober on the bass, Clay Aeschliman on the drums and lead guitarist, Tim Henson. The Texan tyrants are back and are ready to put on an unforgettable performance.

The synchronised guitar work between Henson and LePage was nothing short of mesmerising. The whole show felt like a dream, as though I was watching them through a screen. I almost had to pinch myself to see if it was real.

The band’s versatility was thriving as they played tracks from all of their albums, from funky to more emotional melodies. We’re talking, “OD”, “Neurotica”, “Champagne”, “All Falls Apart”… Polyphia’s precision was on point.

The energy in the room was electric with crowd surfers coming from all angles and I was lucky enough to witness my first Polyphia mosh pit from the balcony; what a view. LePage continuously engaged with the fans between songs, hyping everyone up and demanding more crowd surfers.

As “Playing God” begins blasting through the speakers, I could not have been more at peace. Bodies were flying everywhere as one of my all-time Polyphia favourites was being performed right in front of me. The atmosphere was incredible.

If I could’ve bottled this moment and kept it forever, I would. It wasn’t long before the inevitable, iconic, “one more song” chant started circulating around the room. And of course, the band couldn’t possibly deny us an encore, so back on the stage they came.

Finishing off the night with “G.O.A.T”, a cover of CKY’s “96 Quite Bitter Beings” and the absolutely phenomenal track, “Euphoria”, we couldn’t have asked for a better end to an awesome night. Until next time, if we’re lucky enough to get tickets…

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