Back in early 2004, I was in an East Berlin club called Magnet, waiting to see the Experimental Pop Band perform and the DJ played ‘Laughing from the Sidelines’, the excellent B-side to the Ordinary Boys’ debut single, ‘Maybe Someday’. It is the perfect mid-point between the Smiths and the Jam and, despite following the band’s career through the hype of their debut album, I never managed to get to see them live back then. After a break of nearly nine years since their mediocre third album, ‘How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps’, I, however, finally get to see them on a damp Sunday night in Manchester.

I’ve already heard their new self-titled fourth album a couple of times and been somewhat underwhelmed by it to be honest, but surely hearing some of the old gems from their back catalogue will make the gig worthwhile?

Unfortunately, due in part to the poor sound quality in the venue, the whole set seems to merge into one and it is genuinely hard to pick out songs without reference to a set list, which I grab at the end. It’s a shame, because the band seem to really enjoy themselves and a couple of dozen die-hard fans (The Ordinary Army as they are known) down the front do too. As a spectacle it’s pretty engaging, with frontman, Sam Preston, being particularly energetic in the breathless, near sauna conditions. He expertly manages to avoid head-butting the speakers that hang down at the front of the stage on his several forays to the edge of the mosh pit, a feat that sadly new guitarist Louis Jones fails to emulate!

The highlight is an impromptu mid-set solo performance by Preston of ‘Just a Song’ at the request of one of the Ordinary Army.

Elsewhere, the set is mainly made up of tracks from the new album, the pick of which is probably current single ‘Four Letter Word’, and tracks from the band’s debut including all the chart bothering singles such as ‘Seaside’, ‘Talk Talk Talk’ and ‘Week In Week Out’, but their appeal is lost a little in the muffled sound.

After their best known song, ‘Boys Will Be Boys’, the set ends with a cover of ‘Do You Wanna Dance’. Thankfully there is no encore.

Maybe the moral of the story is strike whilst the iron is hot and I should have seen them in 2004.

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Commenting On: Night and Day, Manchester, 8/11/2015 - Ordinary Boys

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