Live Review: Kris Barras Band – Manchester

Live Review: Kris Barras Band - Academy 2, Manchester
14th April 2024
Support: The Nocturnal Affair and South of Salem
Words: Dan Barnes
Photos: Tim Finch

This is my third trip to Manchester’s Academy complex in the last six days. I’m getting to be on first name terms with the staff and am running the risk of having to register the place as a second home for tax purposes.

But that’s something of a First World Problem and it’s never a chore to pop into town for a show; especially not one of this mouth-watering calibre. I was shocked to see it’s been more than two years since Kris and his band last played this venue as it seems far more recently than that.

It’s an early start for opening act, The Nocturnal Affair, all the way from Las Vegas, Nevada, and ready to bring a bit of that sparkle to England’s glorious north. From the get-go, their tunes are an amalgam of darker Hard Rock, with a shade of the Industrial going on. Singer, Brandon Shane seems genuinely touched by the reception the band receive from the small, but steadily swelling crowd.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

No slouches to opening for some heavyweight acts, these Nevada natives make the most of their first foray around Blighty by including a Sabbath tune into the set. N.I.B. isn’t usually covered, but the lads make a fair fist of it. Elsewhere, the influences of Type O Negative and HIM’s melancholy is heard, as well as the occasional ripping riff. Finishing with Haddaway’s What Is Love? and The Nocturnal Affair have made their introductions and an impression on this Manchester crowd.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Bournemouth’s South of Salem have been building a strong and steady following by getting themselves out there and playing storming sets. There’s a Bloodstock show on the horizon, where they’ll be locking horns with Evergrey and Hellripper on Thursday night; no worries about playing to sizeable crowds if their Stonedead 2023 show was anything to judge them by.

Looking like marauders from a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and sounding like a combination of old school Punk Rock and ballsy Heavy Metal, SoS stomp some late-Eighties vibes, turning Oxford Road in to the more dangerous parts of the LA Strip. Main man, Joey Draper, includes the crowd as much as possible, getting hands into the air and voices hitting both the low and high notes.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Left for Dead, the first single from this years’ Death of the Party album reinforces the fact that South of Salem are rubbing shoulders with some of the UK’s more promising Rock acts and are straining in the slips to get out there and play. The British Rock scene is looking healthier than it has done for a long while and, with Kris, Those Damn Crows, Florence Black and this south coast mob, that will only continue to be the case.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography
Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

We’ve all been there: putting a promising musical career on hold to become a globe-trotting MMA fighter, only to return to one’s first passion. It’s a story as old as time itself. Yet, Kris and his band have captured the moment and, with the recent release of their fifth studio album, Halo Effect, just the other day, have put themselves in the position to break into the Top Ten Album Chart.

That will be for another day, as tonight is all about the Kris Barras Band doing what they do best: playing full on Rock shows. Halo Effect may be on the shelves, but Manchester is made to wait for the first of its tunes as the band open with the popular Who Needs Enemies? Immediate crowd participation greets the four musicians, opening the way for newbie, Unbreakable.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

The riffs are down and dirty and it’s packed with harder, more driving rhythms. In fact, Kris would go on later in the show to comment on how every one of the band’s albums becomes heavier and moves away from the Country-Blues sound of 2016’s Lucky-13.

The first half of the show sees Halo Effect songs interspersed with tracks from the last record, Death Valley Paradise. A hugely popular Dead Horses, the eminently catchy These Voices and demonic Devil You Know welcome into their midst Savages, which finds Kris unslung of his guitar and venturing into the photo pit with just his mic; Hourglass, where the indoor pyrotechnics blaze, shocking the onstage photographer, and the celtic-infused Secrets.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

The centre of the set is where Kris Barras Band show their grit as the rhythm section leave the stage to just Kris and fellow guitarist Josiah Manning, who takes a place at a conveniently located piano.

I’m not sure what takes more guts: to fight in front of ten thousand people, or to lay your heart bare and verbalise raw emotion to music. Wake Me When It’s Over is Kris’ ode to the insanity that was the Pandemic Years, leading into a Jam session with Frazer and Billy returning to the stage. Watching Over Me is a melancholic, yet ultimately uplifting, tune dedicated to Kris’ late father who taught him a love of music, though sadly didn’t get to see his son’s continuing success.

Photo Credit: Tim Finch Photography

Fall to Fly is Halo Effects’ last mention before the classic Ignite (Light It Up) and My Parade, in which he not only ditches the guitar, but ventures into the crowd itself, dividing the room for the most hands-on singalong I think I’ve ever seen. A brief exit from the stage, only to return for the one and only Hail Mary, which ends the night on a massive high.

Another triumphant show for an artist whose stock is certainly on the rise. As I write this, Kris’ hope that Halo Effect makes the Top Ten chart is realised and then some, with the album debuting at number four. A remarkable achievement considering the level of external support, when compared to other acts.

It’s a feat well deserved and hopefully will be a springboard to even bigger and even better things.

Photo Credits: Tim Finch Photography

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