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LIVE: BC Camplight - Band on the Wall, Manchester

After raving over the release of BC Camplight’s comeback album How to Die in the North at the beginning of last year, it has been a somewhat rocky process getting the record to the live stage.

A drawn-out battle with immigration for Philadelphia-raised frontman Brian Christinzio meant tour plans in his adopted home of the UK were subject to severe disruption.

But news of yet another glorious return became known earlier this year when esteemed promoters Hey! Manchester revealed the band would play together on home turf once again at the iconic Band on the Wall.

The venue is packed out from the off and the set that follows turns out to be one of the most joyous yet fiercely energetic occasions Far Out has been to for a while.

Right from the opening ear worm that is the bass line to How to Die in the North’s opener, ‘You Should’ve Gone to School’, the crowd are enamoured. Despite the time apart, the band seem to have come back as a stronger unit, blending pop, rock ‘n’ roll and just the right amount of weirdness perfectly.

There are twists and turns aplenty throughout an hour-long set that feels like a juggernaut. That’s not to the evening lacks more tender moments though. The way BC Camplight can shift from the euphoria of ‘Grim Cinema’ to the pained introversion of ‘Atom Bomb’ is exhilarating.

At this stage it seems like it should go without saying the reception is rapturous for the entire night – to the extent where Christinzio looks genuinely humbled, of course that’s from what we can make out behind his chosen attire of aviator shades and a policeman’s hat.

Luckily that’s where the Village People comparisons come to an end, but the band are indeed fond of an intriguing cover (or two). The impressive versatility of BC’s talents are again demonstrated with a show-stopping finale that sees him go solo for an almost inevitable piano cover of ‘Purple Rain’, before turning the whole thing on its head and tearing up Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’ with full band.

However, the covers are in all honesty just a tiny component of an all-together explosive set that looks as if it could well mark the most glorious of live returns to UK shores.

Patrick Davies