Live Review: Millie Manders and the ShutUp w/ Eryx London and Cosmic Ninja support [Fulford Arms, York] 29th October 2022

By John Hayhurst
By October 31, 2022 November 6th, 2022 Live, Reviews

I’ve listening to Millie Manders and the Shut Up since I reviewed their debut album two years ago (it’s that good!) and having been lucky enough to see them perform live for the first time at Kendal Calling where I thought they were one of the best acts I saw. I went along to one of the best venues, (if not the best venue)in York with a lot of anticipation and expectation. For the record, if you haven’t been and you go, it’s also, by far, the hottest venue in York with some of the friendliest staff and very much an inclusive attitude.

It was also a fancy dress night being just before Halloween, most of those attending didn’t disappoint, with everything from Garth from Wayne’s World to Scary Clowns, Michael Myers, Pirates and Ghosts it was an excellent effort, the bands also went for it making it a great night to remember.

What I didn’t expect when I wandered in was just how good both support acts would also be, usually you get one decent support act, then the main act comes on and shows them how it’s done. I was genuinely surprised by both support acts, neither of whom I’d heard of before but both I want to see again.

Eryx London (from the Midlands, obviously – keep up) were an excellent opening act, it’s never easy to be the first band on stage out of three but they gave it their considerable all. There are still some rough edges and they are not yet the finished article but there is a huge amount of potential in this band, I turned to the person I was with and mentioned there was a hint of Skunk Anansie about them, they are not quite at that level but there is a hint of where they might go. They possess a singer with tremendous stage presence and a number of songs that have tremendous potential. I really enjoyed their performance, those that came a bit later missed a great opening act, shame on them! You will hear more of Eryx, definitely one to keep an eye on.

The next act up, Cosmic Ninja, from Bristol, had already intrigued me with their merchandise which hinted at an almost Gorillas like approach. Of course the t-shirt I really liked was only in small! I really wanted the music to live up to the quality of their t-shirts! I wasn’t disappointed, this is very much a band to pay more attention to, a lot more attention! If you haven’t heard them yet go and listen to their EP ‘Dissident Transmission’. Cosmic Ninja really entered into the spirt of Halloween, the drummer was from Wayne’s World, the guitarist from Money Heist and the lead singer was the freakiest cleric I’ve ever met, I hadn’t appreciated how much until she came out into the crowd, she had the scariest eyes!

Talking of scary I thought it was very cruel of both the clown (who I know) and, in particular, Michael Myers, to keep terrorising the poor girl next to us who was clearly traumatised by them, Michael in particular freaked her out a lot by coming up to stand and stare at her that she went and hid behind the bar (still if you put the event on you are entitled to indulge yourself a little bit!) I think her partner could have been slightly more supportive than laughing at her!

Back to Cosmic Ninja, we’ve all heard the phrase a band to watch, which I’ve never really understood but Cosmic Ninja are beyond that, this is a band who overcame the fact their bassist caught covid for the first time pre-tour, appeared on stage as a three piece instead of their usual four, played York for the first time and absolutely smashed it! They were tremendous, they have fantastic songs, are already at the top of their game as musicians and have a singer with a huge amount of stage presence but, more importantly, a fantastic voice. They dedicated one song to gay pride marches (I hadn’t realised it was 50 years from the first one, shame on me) and delivered a blistering set of high octane music. If I was the guitarist though I would be slightly concerned that when he took his money heist mask off the overwhelming consensus from the audience and his band mates was that he looked better with it on…. They did bring a few fans with them, one of whom wandered about with an axe in her head for a large part of the night which kept falling off, but, if they keep up this level of performance, they will soon have no problem packing out much larger venues.

Any other night Cosmic Ninja would have stolen the show but they were up against the force of nature that is Millie Manders and the Shut Up. If you like your live music served with attitude, skill, sheer enjoyment and one of the best vocalists playing live today then why haven’t you seen them yet? They will continue their tour after a couple of well deserved days off (as Millie said when she came over to the merchandise stall, and she may not thank me for this, she was a sweaty mess by the end of this gig!).

I don’t think I’ve seen a band give so much on stage, Millie Manders and the Shut Up delivered their own very special, unique and tremendous brand of punk, with hints of ska, rock, soul and a generous pinch of Pink. Millie herself is underrated as a vocalist, she has a tremendous range as she proved on some of the slower songs.

As a band they don’t just bring the party, they are also keen to address some very serious subjects, mental health, self harm and depression are tackled head on with Millie being open about the fact that she has had to deal with her own issues.

What you get is not just a high octane show, it’s like someone has taken a band and injected them with rocket fuel, yet the most impressive thing about them is their control. Even within individual songs they can go from quiet introspection to full on punk and back again without missing a beat. They introduced some new music as well which may even eclipse their first album (with the exception of some songs, which are already classics!) One question though, how did the drummer not expire in the costume he was wearing?

Talking of the rest of the band, they are tremendous, as a unit they are incredibly tight, delivering some fantastic live music of which they should all be proud, it’s hard to decide who is the best, they all nail it!

Watching the audience become engaged and singing along more and more just made this a joyful uplifting experience of a gig, if you are looking for a fantastic, uplifting, night out in the next few weeks then you won’t do much better than this, Cosmic Ninja are no longer on the tour so it’s next time for them but Millie Manders and the Shut Up are well worth the admission price all on their own.

Review by Iain McClay