There’s no fanfare as the Irish five-piece take to the stage at Manchester’s Deaf Institute on the opening night of their UK mini-tour to promote their just released and rather excellent first LP, 'Becoming a Jackal'. They just quietly slip into position and ease into 'The Meaning of the Ritual' which gradually builds from a gentle strum to a full band work-out that easily surpasses it’s tamer recorded self.

It certainly sets the benchmark for the rest of the show and the band do not disappoint, confidently serving up arguably the three strongest tracks from the LP (namely 'Home', current single “Becoming a Jackal” and a truly wonderful 'That Day') early in the proceedings, before a riotous 'Pieces'” is climaxed with all the band, save for singer Conor O’Brien and the pianist, leaving the stage after just five songs. The duo run through the beautifully understated 'To Be Counted Among Men' before the rest of the band return for the remainder of the set.

The simple, delightful pop of 'The Pact (I’ll Be Your Fever)' is instantly contrasted with the tense and disturbing, but no less thrilling, 'I Saw the Dead', before the debut release, 'Down, Under The Sea' and an hypnotic drum powered 'Ship of Promises' bring the set to a powerful close.

With the enthralled crowd demanding more, the band quickly return for a parting salvo of 'Set the Tigers Free', which O’Brien wanted to be a single and the plaintive 'On a Sunlit Stage'.

Villagers may have arrived without fuss, but rest-assured, on the strength of this showing, the next time they play in Manchester they’ll need to find a much bigger venue and a fanfare will be a given.

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Commenting On: Deaf Institute, Manchester, 25/5/2010 - Villagers

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