Manchester Orchestra are truly living a second life. They were already a well-established band with a rich back catalog by the time they released 2017's A Black Mile to the Surface, but that album sounded like a true creative rebirth, and its single "The Gold" opened them up to a whole new audience. Now they've got the even better The Million Masks of God out, and it presents a darker, more atmospheric version of Manchester Orchestra. That came through even more at their sold-out Hammerstein Ballroom show last night (10/21), one of their biggest headlining NYC shows to date.

Manchester Orchestra have been a great live band for as long as I can remember -- they're always super tight, and their rhythm section on their heavier songs is like a punch to the gut -- but I've never seen them put on a show as mesmerizing as the one they put on Hammerstein. Matching the new material was a dim light show with hypnotic visuals that obscured the band members and made for an environment you could really lose yourself in. And underneath all of that, the band was still as muscular and precise as ever. The whole thing was truly intense.

Manchester Orchestra opened the show with four songs from the new album, and the crowd was eating it up and singing every word right off the bat. For a band 15 years and six proper albums into their career, that's no small feat. The fifth song they played reached all the way back to their classic 2006 debut I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child ("I Can Barely Breathe"), and it was as cathartic and life-affirming as you'd expect, but it also served as a reminder that Manchester Orchestra are the furthest thing from a nostalgia act. Their set leaned most heavily on the two most recent albums, and there wasn't a single lull.

The Million Masks of God is an album that's fashioned like a movie and is best heard from start to finish, and the big singles "Keel Timing" and "Bed Head" of course got big reactions, but the show also drove home how enduring those deeper cuts are. Set-opener "Inaudible" set the tone for the show right away. The crashing climax of "The Internet" and the forceful riffage of "Dinosaur" had the same impact as when they played fan-fave sludgy bangers like "Top Notch" and "Shake It Out." Throughout the night, the band showed off their softest side, their heaviest side, their most experimental side, and just about everything in between. They're multi-faceted artists, and a well-oiled machine of a live band, and that all came through.

Direct support on this tour comes from Foxing, who also have a great new album out, Draw Down The Moon, which members of Manchester Orchestra contributed to. Just like the album, they opened the show with "737," which starts out as a tender indie folk song before turning into a post-hardcore rager, and it made for the same climactic introduction on stage that it does on record. And just like on the album, they segued seamlessly into "Go Down Together," one of the most purely accessible songs they've released yet. That song and the others Foxing played from DDTM (the title track and "If I Believed In Love") go in a more synth-poppy direction than Foxing usually did in the past, but they still sound like Foxing songs, and the live show proved that. Mixing them up with Nearer My God ragers like "Grand Paradise" and "Lich Prince," and even "The Medic" from their earlier, emo-ier days, it all sounded like the work of one distinct band. And when they closed with Nearer My God's title track -- a big crowdpleaser -- they reminded you that the new sound really did begin on that album. That song in particular already felt like the catalyst for most of Draw Down The Moon, and it did even moreso last night.

Also: Foxing guitarist Eric Hudson joined Manchester Orchestra during their set-closer "The Silence." Video of that awesome moment below.

Slothrust opened the show but we missed them. More pictures of Manchester Orchestra and Foxing by Amanda Hatfield, as well as the setlists and fan-shot videos, below.

Pick up Manchester Orchestra's new album on blue or pink vinyl in our shop.

Manchester Orchestra @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 10/21/21 Setlist
Angel of Death
Keel Timing
Bed Head
I Can Barely Breathe
Top Notch
The Maze
The Gold
The Alien
The Sunshine
The Internet

Shake It Out
100 Dollars
The Silence

Foxing @ Hammerstein Ballroom - 10/21/21 Setlist
Go Down Together
Grand Paradise
Draw Down the Moon
Lich Prince
If I Believed In Love
The Medic
Nearer My God

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