Live review of Fat Freddy’s Drop at the Manchester Academy

  • Resurrecting Manchester’s music scene from down under, the unmistakable sound of Fat Freddy’s Drop proves once more how they’re in a league of their own.
  • A long way from New Zealand, the seven piece band made their debut performance at the Manchester Academy as part of their Europe 2018 Tiki Tour on Saturday 3rd November.
  • Selling out so quickly that an extra date was added, making Manchester their most popular city – hosting two of their five UK gigs.

It’s been a highly anticipated twelve month wait for our reggae fathers. So the frenzy surrounding Fat Freddy’s Drop in Manchester was potent on the 3rd of November. Expectation heavy in the air and a stage fixation verging on uneasy. Nobody indulged in conversation or committed to bar queues. Instead we stood – awaiting our psychedelic reception.

Immediately as they appeared on stage, opening with ‘Ernie’ from their debut studio album ‘Based on a True Story’, their uniquely theatrical performance was well underway. The intensity of the brass instruments overwhelmed the academy, fusing together with the digital sound of DJ Fitchie, creating a wave of hybrid music that poured off the stage.

Despite a capacity of 2,300, Manchester Academy felt intimate, everybody grooving uncontrollably with each other – as if a room full of friends. Hip-hop artist Ladi6’s surprise appearance in ‘Roady’ caused mayhem amongst the crowd, injecting a wave of sudden attitude. While Joe Duckie’s silky rich vocals returned the audience to a transcendental state, in a kind of hypnotherapy.

Much loved songs from all albums featured throughout the evening, with improvised solo grooves from every band member. Chopper Reads on Saxophone and Hopepa on Trombone came into their element, showcasing their incredible talent whilst appearing in a deep trance.

The show was a masterpiece for the senses. My vision was refreshingly absent of phones, the people that were here were indeed present. The beauty of this crowd was that it mirrored the band; everything and everyone was stripped back. Here to indulge in the music, not their vanity.

The night ended with a snapshot of their next album, teasing us with a performance of ‘Trickled Down’, before returning on stage for an encore. The show was simply a different class. Proving that things really do get better with age.