Unfortunately, arriving somewhat later than planned due to a mixture of both work and tonight's unusually early start time, we descend the stairs of Manchester's Roadhouse just as the final notes of the support band RDGLDGRN ring out, and have barely enough time to grab a beer before Itch takes to the stage. Tonight is the Kevin Says Tour, an offshoot from this years Warped Tour featuring a selection of contemporary artists from the line-up including the aforementioned RDGLDGRN as well as The Hype Theory and Ghost Town. Upon listening to those that I missed when I got home, I came to the conclusion that fifteen year old me would have been in my element, which could well explain why much of the crowd were fresh-faced and beerless, and ultimately perplexed by the headliner himself.
Ex-King Blues frontman Itch struck out on his own soon after the announcement of his band's death, and has obviously been relishing in the new found freedom he has at his feet, particularly when it comes to collaborations. The most recent of which, 'Hopeless Romantic' kicks off tonight's set list brilliantly. With Taking Back Sunday's Adam Lazara taking up vocal duties on the chorus (he isn't actually here), it's a fairly mellowed start to an evening which promises to get heavier. And get heavier it does, almost immediately in fact with 'Diplomat' the first song from Manifesto Part 2 setting the tone for what's to follow excellently. Not one to miss out on the action himself, Itch seems to spend most of the night down on the floor with the audience, much to the surprise of some of the younger members of the crowd.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening comes just after the halfway point in the form of 'Gutter Starz', with sleazy rock guitars forming the verses and an anthemic synth chorus it's a fusion of styles that summarises Itch himself perfectly. Sure it's been done before, but really with this much passion, this much conviction. There's an energy about tonight's show that surpasses that of your usual live performance, sure the political sentiment might be lost on some people, or and people might even disagree with some, but no one can deny the absolute fervour and fire with which Itch delivers his Manifesto.
There's something inherently punk about Itch, and I don't mean 'punk'. It's this that bleeds in to the crowd in a way that rarely happens at gigs and could only happen in a venue such as the Roadhouse, or any other of Manchester's spit 'n' sawdust venues. As a front-man, Itch was just that. As a solo artist, he's far more. The King Blues were a fantastic feel good band to which you could get drunk and dance; Itch feels like someone you have to listen to, have to watch. And for that, his performances are only going to get better.