WRVU gets an exclusive opportunity to cover press for the Nashville iteration of Manchester Orchestra’s 2021 tour on November 17, 2021.

The magic of a venue like the Ryman is in its history. From the moment that you walk in, you understand that you are a part of a long and sacred tradition of sharing art. The magic of a band like Manchester Orchestra is their ability to fill space with their sound. It comes, then, as no surprise that Manchester Orchestra at the Ryman was an experience that can only be described as spiritual. From the moment their first notes graced those historic hallowed halls, sound filled every corner of the room; the entire audience was awash in the music.

Andy Hull and Andy Prince of Manchester Orchestra, photo by Amanda Maeglin

Manchester Orchestra writes what I like to call soul-fused music— their songs have a vice-like grip on my emotions. Heavy hitters from every angle, stirring lyrics, pounding rhythms, and layered harmonies pull no punches. The timbre of lead singer, Andy Hull, rises easily above the band’s strong instrumentals. Even with Robert McDowell’s rhythmic guitar and Andy Prince’s thumping bass, Hull’s ethereal vocals rang clear.

Andy Hull and Tim Very of Manchester Orchestra, photo by Amanda Maeglin

On stage, the band let the music speak for itself instead of in conjunction with choreographed moves. In fact, the most dancing to ever be seen from them was the occasional head banging or an energetic stroll across the stage. However, the show was not lacking at all because of the lack of choreography. Instead, the band’s straightforward yet unapologetic stage presence allowed their music to be highlighted front and center. In a venue like the Ryman, a band cannot hide from its audience. The space is small enough that the exchange of energy between the stage and the audience is instrumental to the overall vibe of the show. Although daunting and quite a difficult feat to pull off, when the energy is just right, it creates an atmosphere unrivaled by any large stadium location. And what an atmosphere Manchester Orchestra created! As the night went on, more energy kept building up in the audience, which in turn seemed to fuel the band to continue delivering even more stirring performances of a timeless set curation. With “The Gold” from their 2017 album, A Black Mile to the Surface, they had the audience on their feet and singing at the top of their lungs. When Hull turned the chorus over to the crowd, the air seemed to crackle with energy as the audience’s collective voice stretched to the ceiling.

Robert McDowell of Manchester Orchestra, photo by Amanda Maeglin

I believed you were crazy
You believed you loved me

– lyrics from “The Gold” by Andy Hull

The final song before the encore was an acoustic rendition of “Telepath” from the band’s newest project, The Million Masks of God (2021). An ode to love and commitment in musical form was truly the perfect ending to their setlist. Had it not been for the beautiful music coming from the stage, you could have heard a pin drop from the audience’s state of silent awe. When the last notes faded and the band trooped off stage, the immediate uproar from the audience calling them back was somewhat jarring, but entirely warranted. The gratitude in the room was palpable— as the house lights came on in the middle of the rousing encore, you could all but see the appreciation pouring out from the audience towards the stage. It was clear that the band could feel it too. Manchester Orchestra’s powerful music made the show more than just enjoyable; the give and take of energy between the band and the audience, the obvious love for the music from all parties present, and the wonderful curation of songs throughout the night made it magical. In the long tradition of musical exchange, it is safe to say that Manchester Orchestra more than held their own. It was a performance that none will be quick to forget.

Listen to The Million Masks of God here: