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Periphery at the 02 Ritz, Manchester - live review

Periphery wow the crowds at their biggest headline show so far

The crowd at a prog gig
(Image: © Katja Ogrin)

There’s something in the air here, beyond the errant plastic cups. Tonight’s gig is announced early on as the “biggest headline show we’ve played in the history of Periphery”, and the fans respond, from balcony to bar, with a roar of approval.

Anticipation resolved, there’s a no-nonsense confidence from the band’s opening salvo A Black Minute. The mix is surprisingly spacious for a group who have essentially built their reputation on speaker-blowing low-end, and the likes of Stranger Things and The Way The News Goes… sound at once monstrous and dextrous. Accomplished tech metal types so often seem canned, but these songs are made of flesh and bone.

Onstage, strobe lighting freezes scenes of dynamism, as hair flails, cables whip and guitars cut paths through the grey, all momentarily captured in comic book frames. Frontman Spencer Sotelo is in his element, and embraces every opportunity to make use of the full-throated crowd.

Arms outstretched, Sotelo gives it the full messiah complex, channelling Manchester’s own swaggering icons. For his part, Mansoor is a more subdued, calculated presence, keeping the flair on the fretboard, yet sparing only the occasional look at what he’s doing.

Mansoor can stake a significant claim as the most influential player in this region of progressive metal – he wrote a large chunk of the rule book and he plays like it, too.

Tellingly, the newest material receives a warm welcome, and as the set gathers momentum, Sotelo’s elation becomes infectious. “This is one of the greatest nights of my life,” he states. “Thank you for being a part of it.”

Appropriately, it’s 2016’s Lune that closes proceedings. “Do you feel the love?” pleads Sotelo in the song’s closing sections.

“Yes, we feel the love!” comes the unprompted reply.

It’s clear that both parties mean it.