LIVE: Vistas – O2 Ritz, Manchester, 16/11/2023

LIVE: Vistas – O2 Ritz, Manchester, 16/11/2023

Edinburgh’s finest Vistas, with their tremendous ability to knock out a hell of a lot of material in a short space of time, come to Manchester tonight in support of Is This All We Are, their third album in just three years.

Having only seen them in sweaty small rooms before, this huge venue is quite the step up, with them only having played this size of venue on one of their many support slot outings.

But before we mull upon the main course, a few words on the starter. There’s quite the crowd to witness Birmingham’s overpass (always all lower case).

I’d caught them before at Liverpool Sound City earlier in the year but, due to an incoherent sound, with everything turned up to 11, it made them essentially unlistenable. Thankfully, there’s a kinder ear looking after them tonight.

They’ve even elicited the holy grail for a support act, the ‘lad on his mates’ shoulders’ response for closer ‘3AM’, to which the band look genuinely delighted. They announce that they are touring early next year; keep an eye out, they will be worth your while.

Vistas come out bang on the stroke of 9:15 and go straight into the new album opener, ‘Cruel Hearts’ which builds, then hits, like one of Coldplay’s finest.

They then instantly show the confidence in what lies ahead as they dispatch one of their finer early singles and big hitters ‘Tigerblood’, just second song in. 

They don’t need to worry though, each song that follows is a clap-along anthem, all with no lulls or filler.

Such is the wealth of their newer material, we get four tracks from The Beautiful Nothing EP that they released earlier in the year, yet only a trio from their second album, 2021’s What Were You Hoping To Find?

And it’s easy to see why, the newer tracks seem to have an added layer of depth and atmosphere to them, such as the Manics-influenced ‘Follow You Down’ and ‘Back Of The Car’, which Jimmy Eat World would have killed to have written.

But it’s not all solely new stuff, there is plenty for the people who were there from the start back in 2018 as they intersperse some of their earlier singles, such as ‘Stranger’.

There’s not much in the way of actual, old-fashioned stage presence, the only stage props were blocks that occasionally changed colour like early Christmas decorations, and their crowd interactions seemed like they would be exactly the same every night, with just a change of the name of whichever city they were in.

Despite that, Vistas have a few other tricks up their collective sleeves.

They very skilfully pull off the balancing act of having a set full of quite similar songs, but each one has just the right riff or hook that just keeps them different enough, with a killer chorus to boot. Which is plenty these days, it’s a mystery why they are not Courteeners-sized massive.

Like all good sets, it saves the true diamonds till the end, and the run of the last four or five songs tonight is as good an ending as you’ll see hear days, with each one received like their very own ‘Mr Brightside’.

‘15 Years’ shows that when the youth aren’t loudly chatting amongst themselves, they can still properly lose their mind to the songs that they love.

And God bless them for that, us old-timers feed off that like a drug, similar to when pensioners sniff a newborn baby’s head.

‘Retrospect’ ends proceedings in manic style, and we are left to reflect on one of those gigs that feels like a greatest hits set.

Hasta next time, Vistas.

Photo credit: Cheryl Doherty

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