Live Review: Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour

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Fireball - Fuelling The Fire

The Ritz, Manchester, UK - 9th December 2018

Tonight marks the return of the Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour to its annual stop off at Manchester’s The Ritz  as ever the tour is sponsored by Fireball Whisky and boasts an impressive five band line up featuring The Bronx, Face To Face and Flogging Molly with support from Lost In Stereo, ‘Fireball’s Hottest Band 2018‘, and finally the winner of the open call to local bands, The Human Project. What’s almost impressive as tonight’s line up is the fact that tickets for tonight’s show were under £20, which given the three headline acts alone is good value by anyone’s standards, add free shots of Fireball into the mix and you have a winning combination.

I have to admit to feeling a tad jaded due to excesses of Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man‘s final gig yesterday, but the Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour is always something marked in my diary as it brings a package that pairs some of the best band’s from the US punk scene with up and coming home grown bands, and it’s going to take more than a hangover to stop me attending tonight. After queuing in the cold Manchester night we get into The Ritz just as The Human Project take the stage, after a muted melodic introduction they explode into life. The Human Project features former members of Crazy Arm, Random Hand and Sounds Of Swami, that provides a nice sense of continuity as the latter of this bands played last night’s Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man show. The winners of Fireball’s Hottest Band 2019 regionals deliver a full blooded set of melodic hardcore to a venue that is steadily filling up as people make their way through the extensive security checks, which does begs the question why the venue only opened a mere ten minutes before the first band are due on stage.

Glasgow’s Lost In Stereo were the winners of Fireball’s Hottest Band 2018, a title that earned them the support slot with tonight’s trio of headline acts, they kick off with a set of melodic hard edged pop punk that ensures that every band on tonight’s bill reflects a different facet of the punk scene. The free shots of Fireball Whiskey that are on offer tonight ensures that most of tonight’s attendees now smell quite strongly of cinnamon, something that adds an unintentionally festive odour to tonight’s show. Amongst the crowd are Revenge Of The Psychotronic Man along with a few other survivors from yesterday’s all day farewell show to one of Manchester’s finest DIY bands.

By now The Ritz is at capacity and the soundtrack of NOFX, Bouncing Souls, Dead Kennedys and DOA is amping the crowd up perfectly for the appearance the first of tonight’s headliners, Face To Face. They take the stage to The Clash’s The Call Up before launching into a set of vintage SoCal punk rock. They pause only to acknowledge the capacity crowd in The Ritz, and to acknowledge Manchester’s musical heritage, before they continue with their career spanning set that is causing the venues sprung dance floor to bounce in synchronicity with their set, something that increases in force as the crowd bounce and singalong as the Fireball Whiskey starts to take hold. The fact that Monday morning is imminent is either being ignored or, a more likely scenario is that free booze combined with a punk soundtrack means that no one cares.

The DJ urges the crowd to raise a glass to the late Pete Shelley of Buzzcocks, something that sees glasses raised across the venue. The last time we caught The Bronx was across the road in Gorilla, a show that was so overcrowded we ended up watching them from the corridor that leads into the venue and we wondered why the they weren’t playing the larger venue of The Ritz, six months later they are doing exactly that. The Bronx do what they do best, they deliver a high octane set of hardcore punk, their frontman constantly urging the crowd forward, not that the by now whiskey infused crowd needs much in the way of encouragement. Tracks suck as Shitty Future and American Heart Attack are delivered with bass lines that are felt rather than heard and their frontman, Matt Caughthran, launches himself into the crowd before returning to the stage as The Bronx build to a pummelling climax

By now there is a distinct party atmosphere in The Ritz that will suit tonight’s final band, Flogging Molly, perfectly. Their Celtic punk rock kicks off a riotous mosh pit, they too acknowledge the passing of Pete Shelley and raise their glasses to the memory of one of Manchester’s finest sons, Flogging Molly have the capacity crowd exactly where they want them, in a wild drunken pit. Their set brings the 2019 Fireball – Fuelling The Fire Tour tour to an end, hopefully we’ll be back next year, tonight also marks the last live show of 2018 I’ll be covering for The Punk Site. It’s been another incredible year for live shows and as always a big thank you to all the bands, venues, promoters, photographers and record labels that enable us to do what we do, hopefully we see you all down the front in 2019.

The Human Project‘s Facebook page is here and their Bandcamp is here

Lost In Stereo‘s website can be found here

Face To Face‘s official website is here

The Bronx‘s website can be found here

Flogging Molly‘s website is here

Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here and you can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images