With a swagger and gusto reminiscent of past indie idols, DMA’s rocked into Manchester at a packed and rowdy Ritz to demonstrate why they are being hailed as one of the upcoming shining lights of the indie rock n roll scene. Their metamorphic rise is testament to just how talented these lads are. It was only last year they played Night n Day in Manchester before moving onto The Ruby Lounge in early 2016, in conjunction with their debut full length album release, so to now be playing The Ritz is a phenomenal yet deserved achievement. Key festival slots and tours across America and Australia fill in the gaps, showing just how highly rated they are on a global scale.
Believe it or not the band hails from Australia. Surprising as you’d be forgiven for thinking they were one of Manchester’s very own protégés from the way they play, to the way they carry themselves, to the way they look; very casual with caps, bucket hats, stripy jumpers and sportswear – the sort of rabble you’d be tempted to avoid by crossing the road if they marched towards you. But it’s that intimidating rough n ready exterior mixed with heartfelt songwriting and a cheeky charm, which the likes of Oasis possessed, that makes them such an exhilarating band, bringing a fresh approach to emulating the sound and success of British bands from the 90s.
There’s a feeling of Deja vu about the crowd this evening as they carry a certain boisterous similarity to that seen from the Madchester era. Cries of “D-D-D M A’s! D-D-D M A’s!” ring throughout the gig! The band, a 6 piece live as opposed to the original 3 piece, swarm onstage and launch into first track, ‘Play It Out’. Beer and plastic cups become airborne, pockets of people create circles on the dance floor for mini mosh pits, and a tirade of arms point to the heavens and start to bounce as the guitar work becomes more prominent. The energy doesn’t relent as debut single, ‘Feels like 37’ cranks up the pace and atmosphere even further.
‘Straight Dimensions’, ‘Melbourne’ and ‘I’m in the Moment’ drive home that nostalgic indie rock sound, being quite Stone Roses-esque in parts, with the latter being a personal favourite, a fantastically crafted track that hooks you in with an anthemic emotive tone that sounds like the perfect song to soundtrack the summer. ‘Timeless’, the debut album opener, is sandwiched between these three nuggets, and the switch in tempo has a knock on effect to the crowd’s buoyancy. It’s clear that this crowd are quite fanatical for a band in its relative infancy. DMA’s debut album, ‘Hills End’ was only released last February and it seems to have already engrained itself on the hearts and minds of the crowd, who take every opportunity in showing just how well they know the lyrics by singing them back to lead singer Tommy O’Dell, always in perfect harmony, and word for word in both chorus and verse. It suggests just how important DMA’s could be to British music with these highly catchy and melodic arrangements in their repertoire.
An interesting cover of Madonna’s ‘Beautiful Stranger’ carries a psychedelic connotation, kind of like Oasis’ ‘Columbia’, and again the comparison with past Manchester legends becomes more visible. It’s not too noticeable on the album, but live there’s a reminiscent style to the vocal and mannerisms, with O’Dell standing arms outstretched like a figure of rock royalty soaking in the crowd’s appreciative cheers. The songs appear a little more polished and softer on the album, but they spring into life onstage, befitting of large festivals and stadiums, which you can sense is where this band is heading towards.
‘Step up the Morphine’ and ‘So We Know’ are two ballads, with the latter being a love song performed initially by O’Dell in a solitary manner with the lights shining only on him, before the song comes to life and the full band take part. The ballads continue as ‘Delete’ rounds off the set, a track that received plenty of airplay on National Radio Stations upon release. The crowd are in full flow yet again by belting out the lyrics and standing with arms aloft in honour of their new adopted heroes. Two encores follow with the quieter ‘Laced’ setting up the crescendo of the vigorous ‘Lay Down’ to round off proceedings in typically riotous indie rock fashion.
It seems that Manchester, perhaps even the UK, has found a band a little different to those currently hogging the limelight in the more commercial band scene. British music needs this type of edgy band that carries a hint of cheek and an air of danger about their character. There are a few bands out there with a similar attitude and the momentum is building for them as their gigs and profile grow. If there does turn out to be some sort of cultural shift off the back of the rise in bands with a bit more character and edge, that in turn influence the youth, then be sure that DMA’s will be at the forefront of such a movement. But until then, we can revel in the fact that there is a fantastic band out there creating the sort of music befitting of a past British culture many still hold onto. Their origins may be Australian….but their sound is very Mancunian.