The Fragile Army comes to London and then Manchester

We’ve been off-air for a month, and that just won’t do. Especially as we were both actually at the same gig last week, which we will write about soon, and because we’re both seeing the Polyphonic Spree this week. I’ve just seen them; my co-conspirator is seeing them tomorrow. Obviously I won’t give anything away before then but they were fantastic, making the new album sound great and returning to the old stuff with obvious enthusiasm; there were new members (I think), new versions of old songs, new ways of turning the crowd into Spreevians.

By the end – after two hours of Polyphonic goodness – the whole place would have happily followed them out down Oxford Street, singing ‘Lithium’ or ‘Sonic Bloom’. I bet the Hare Krishnas would be envious.


Lithium’ – The Polyphonic Spree

Sonic Bloom‘ – The Polyphonic Spree

Link for Lithium now fixed. Go buy some Spree

Photo – Siobhan

And then they came to Manchester:

It seems strangely fitting that yesterday was one of the sunniest days in Manc for some time, what with the Spree in town. This morning in contrast, is vile and damp, what with the Spree having left town. Yet they’ve left me with a sunny disposition that no amount of rising damp can alter.

This was the most intimate Spree gig I’ve been to. Deep in the basement that is Club Academy , we were up close and personal with the Fragile Army. And my god they sounded great.

Live is the best way to appreciate the Spree’s joyous symphonic pop. Always teetering on the edge of falling apart, in the past the Spree have been the sound of a beautiful organised chaos. But tonight they sounded more polished and tighter than ever before…but not too slick: still a little fuzzy around the edges and all the better for it.

And so I dutifully lost it within the first song, bouncing, arms aloft, to ‘Running Away’ and onward through the nigh-on two hour set. ‘Get up and Go’ really did rock (a descriptor I thought I’d never use with the Spree), ‘Hold me Now’ was genuinely moving, ‘Lithium’ was all-out crowd participation, and then, of course, ‘Light and Day’…which we got twice.

A slight cloud came over the blazing Spree sun as Tim politely begged us to visit the merchandise store to keep the band bus going – from which one can assume that financially all is not well in Camp Spree. Which is slightly sad, as the thought of not seeing them in the UK again (something exacerbated by the relegation of the gig to Club Academy, although I learnt that this was due to the stage size of the other venues upstairs) is not something I can bear.

And once again my encounter with fame involved hair…the customary processual return to the stage went straight past me and I just couldn’t resist ruffling Tim’s hair a little.

Still grinning.

Enjoy more Spree:

‘Running Away’ – The Polyphonic Spree

‘The Championship’ – The Polyphonic Spree

JKneale (London) and angrybonbon (Manchester)


About jkneale

BothBarsOn's London correspondent.

Posted on September 4, 2007, in Gig reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Wow…what a picture? Nice one Shiv.

  2. Ha – I hope he didn’t mind. He looked quite freaked out when I touched his robe a few years back – but how could I resist?

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