“The Last Dinner Party” have been touted as the next big thing, primarily due to their live videos on YouTube and two killer singles, “Nothing Matters” and “Sinner.”
Their first UK headline tour sold out months ago, and at Manchester’s Deaf Institute, a palpable crackle of excitement filled the air as the venue quickly reached its capacity. The band’s wide appeal was evident in the diverse age range of attendees, with many proudly donning Last Dinner Party T-shirts – a sight that’s something of a rarity for such a new band. Opening the proceedings, Irish singer-songwriter Nell Mescal captivated the audience with her intimate, stripped-back acoustic set, showcasing a remarkable blend of power and vulnerability in her voice.
On to the main event, and would The Last Dinner Party live up to the praise that has been heaped upon them? Well, in a word, “yes.” And then some. For such a young band, the fact that they already exude an air of greatness is quite remarkable. I’ve rarely seen a crowd so captivated right from the get-go. The last few years of honing their craft have undoubtedly been time well spent. Even the factual and fatuous inaccuracies about the band’s origins haven’t harmed their reputation; instead, it has added an extra layer to their mythology. It was probably the shortest-lived (and most wrong-headed) backlash in recent history, ( the phrase “being savaged by a dead sheep” springs to mind). Tonight’s audience was certainly hugely welcoming and gave The Last Dinner Party a rapturous reception typically reserved for established artists or local heroes – and this was before they even played a note. (You can read the truth about their beginnings here.)
Their sound is hard to pin down, and if you’re into genre tagging, you might not be able to neatly place TLDP into a little box. There are elements of pop, prog, new wave, and new romanticism, with hints of the theatrical flair of Kate Bush. And then there’s lead singer Abigail Morris, who notes the venue’s “unique” wallpaper and quips, “This is a VERY Last Dinner Party type of venue,” and who absolutely oozes charisma and style – if there is such a thing as star quality, then Morris has it in absolute spades.
The band, consisting of Morris on vocals, Lizzie Mayland (guitar and vocals), Emily Roberts (lead guitar), Georgia Davies (bass), Aurora Nishevci (keys), and Rebeka on drums, are clearly accomplished musicians. Roberts, for example, switches between guitar and flute effortlessly, and one imagines if a harp were to be placed on stage, one of the band members could play it without skipping a beat. Doubtless, they could play the kazoo and imbue it with a sense of doomed grandeur.
The setlist is hugely impressive, providing unequivocal proof that this band is far from being a mere flash in the pan. Kicking off with the brilliant dark pop drama of “Burn Alive,” there’s absolutely zero filler throughout. Tracks like “Caesar on a TV Screen” (previously known as “Leningrad”), “On Your Side,” and “Feminine Urge” showcase not only their ear for epic earworms but also their adeptness at seamlessly shifting pace and atmosphere within the same song. It would be difficult to pick a highlight, but “Portrait Of A Dead Girl” is an absolute showstopper, as is “My Lady Of Mercy.” The set continuously builds, and, of course, it culminates with a huge flourish in the form of a glorious rendition of “Nothing Matters,” which has the whole venue bouncing. It won’t be long before The Last Dinner Party are filling venues twice the size of The Deaf Institute. If you get the chance to catch them at a more intimate show, seize it now because the hype, the buzz, the excitement – whatever you wish to call it – is neither misplaced nor overstated. This band is the real deal. You really have to see them live to fully appreciate just how good they are.