New Model Army Captivating at the 02 Ritz, Manchester UK Saturday 3rd December 2022.





It’s another bitterly cold night here in the North West. This time it’s Manchester, at the stunning, art deco 02 Ritz in the beating heart of this vibrant city… and a musical storm is brewing…as we walk towards our venue we can almost feel it in the air! Spanning 4 decades and covering so many musical styles and genres, with a steadfast following as diverse as their sound, it’s the phenomenal New Model Army. The energy is already up there as we enter, it’s buzzing and it’s full of people of all ages sporting t-shirts from all eras of our headline. I notice a fair few kids about too, which is always brilliant to see. Such a special sound this band create, it’s no wonder it appeals to such a wide audience. Support tonight comes from Widnes legends, Zen Baseball Bat, an astounding band that we’ve been keen to cover, so a great night is on the cards!


Zen Baseball Bat – Support:

Gary Gleavey – vocal/guitar

Carl Gleavey – vocal/bass

Mike Wilkinson – drums

Jordan Donaldson – vocal/keys

Jogga – vocal/guitar


So, with what seems limitless energy and enthusiasm, Zen Baseball Bat career into their set. It’s instantly feel good. Bouncy, bopping, delight filled, post punk ska at it’s very best We can’t be still, it’s so exuberant. Real nostalgia inducing, retro sound, I’m instantly transported back to my childhood, that early 80s ska movement, so much fun, and it’s pure joy! The sound is immense, a real clarity, very tightly performed and of the highest vibrations, a massive uplift. Fast paced, skippy, almost jazz like drumming, jangly keys, shining guitars, backing tracks add brass and synth during some tracks and at times we get an 80s electro feel coming through, adding yet more dimension to this already rich tapestry of sound. Think the Specials meets New Order, Blancmange meets Depeche Mode type sounds – catchy, stick in your head tunes. Choruses are chanted back by the crowd – Zen Baseball Bat bring a pretty fair following of their own. Pounding bass lines, vibrant, luminescent, such a mash up of sound it’s joy for the ears. The vocal is smooth, very expressive, like a narrative being belted out towards us, grabbing our attention and holding us there within this contagious energy created before us, with band members hopping about doing the ‘ska dance’, legs in the air, spinning around, dancing back to back, having the time of their lives up there. Naturally this filters down from them into us as a crowd. I’m aching from bouncing. so much fun – I have not stopped smiling. Bloody loved it. For a real energy boost, injection of happiness, trip down memory lane and utterly banging tunes, I urge you – Go see Zen Baseball Bat!



1/ Burning

2/ Place like This

3/ Captain Midnight

4/ Whiplash

5/ You Won’t get Paid

6/ Over the Wall

7/ Retaliation

8/ Name People Dog People

9/ Brown Cows of Elocution

10/ Living on the Ceiling



New Model Army – Headline:

Justin Sullivan – vocal/guitar

Michael Dean – drums

Dean White – keys

Ceri Monger – bass/drums


The feels are high up there now .As a crowd we’re ready, eagerly anticipating our gigantic headline. In darkness to thunderous applause, New Model Army walk on stage and take their places.”Let’s go back to the very beginning” announces our front man, Justin, and with that the band launch into

‘Bittersweet’. Immediately the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. It’s powerful, eerie, evocative, mesmerising and spell binding. This IS amazing. It’s difficult to classify where this band sits genre wise, they bridge between so many. There’s the obvious rock, alt rock, dare I say progressive rock? Then it’s folk, art house and even at times slightly electro feeling. Such an intense and comprehensive set, brimming with content; no messing, it’s from one song straight into the next, and man these guys give it some ‘welly’ when they play!

Completely captivating, full of drama and so much atmosphere is created. It envelopes us, it’s like a musical blanket has been crafted and thrown around us, wrapping us, all encompassing, surrounding us in the sheer power of the sound and feels this band create and evoke, taking us with them deep into the themes of each song. The feels are wintery, desolate and bleak at times, of anguish and suffering, of wrong doing, of war, of the down trodden, tragedy, of unity, uprising and survival. Many of the songs are openly political. The sound quite honestly is out of this world: epic, multi layers, extended intros, building, gathering momentum, more and more, coming together, building more, then BANG…crashing waves of choruses hit us…mind blowing stuff, real rousing, rallying stuff .then come the jaw dropping instrumentals…guitars are on fire, burning sounds, drumming sections that sound like military marching bands, then showerings of shimmery cymbals. It’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd in the way that each song has a life of its own, never short and always to the fullest, giving maximum effect. This crowd are brilliant, so diverse, and they worship this band. It’s like we’re all in some hypnotic state, every one of us, arms up in the air, swaying, singing, chanting, but it’s laid back and relaxed at the same time, no wilds of a moshpit , it’s an entire venue unified!

One female fan is up above us now, not only up on someone’s shoulders, but stood up on them, completely lost in the music in that moment as she and our commanding front man sing to each other over the sea of swaying bodies. That’s the level of feels I’m talking about! The vocal is something else. It varies massively, but my God, what a voice! From talking in an eerie, almost gothic like, manner as a narrative, to angry rock cries, loud, stretching notes, a gnarl, a throatiness. powerful and raspy and the most amazing gravel tone. Very descriptive and distinct, and I could listen to this all night!




This band really bring something extra, it’s a gift they have, of truly conveying the entire feel of each song. Performance is captivating, fascinating and they really do put heart and soul into it. It’s bordering on a rock opera type experience tonight. It feels huge, all consuming and intoxicating. I’ve been completely wrapped up in this whole set. It’s been nonstop. Phenomenal! A really memorable gig and one I’m never going to forget. Thank you, New Model Army, for possibly the most powerful and dramatic musical experience I’ve ever had!



1/ Bittersweet

2/ Lust for Power

3/ Never Arriving

4/ War

5/ Believe it

6/ 1984

7/ The Charge

8/ Devil’s Bargain

9/ Maps

10/ Where I am / 51st State

11/ Angry Planet

12/ Born Feral

13/ Before I get old

14/ Vagabonds

15/ The Hunt

16/ Fate

17/ Bodmin