Radiator Hospital @ Night & Day, Manchester, 3 Jan
Even at 7.30pm the dimly lit Night and Day Café is bristling with sweaty gig-goers, the likes of whom probably all recognise each other's faces from their social media feeds and an array of other local pop-punk shows. The crowd is thick and abuzz with anticipation for Radiator Hospital; we’ve been pining for this show since the Philadelphia four-piece last hit the UK while supporting Durham dreamboats Martha in 2015.
Opening with the slow-burning and turbulent beauty Your Boyfriend, it’s clear as soon as the band take the stage (on which Allison Crutchfield is supportively perched, nodding along to each track with a smile on her face) that their set is going to be one that scorches explosively – like a firework, unfortunately over before you know it.
The set list, evidently one chosen for its punk stylings and riotous tracks, sees most of the attention on lead vocalist and guitarist, Sam Cook-Parrott. Little interaction with the audience – aside from a mumbled apology to a crowd who apparently might think that Radiator Hospital "suck" – means that his crooning, idiosyncratic vocals fluently speak for themselves, particularly on a witty, anglicised version of Cut Your Bangs (or, for one night only, Cut Your Fringe).
As Cook-Parrott seemingly struggles to get into his stride and find his pitch in the first half of their set, however, it's unclear whether the volume of the guitar monitors means he can’t hear himself, or for whatever reason simply doesn't care. Regardless, by the time they hit the latter half of their set, Radiator Hospital are the cohesive and poignant band that we know and love, with Cynthia Schemer’s effortless guitar skills and beautiful tone acting as the highlight of the show.