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Man Like Me headline the Garage in Highbury Islington on 11th February 2010

Man Like Me make bouncy tunes to shake your booty to. Here's my review of their recent headline gig at The Garage in Islington.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Man Like Me illustration by Jenny Robbins
Man Like Me illustration by Jenny Robins

Man Like Me headlined a Mean Fiddler gig at the Garage in Highbury Islington on Thursday last week. (I’m sorry but I can’t bring myself to call this venue by it’s new spangly sponsored name…. R. R. R. no I can’t. Sorry. It’s a grim energy drink, viagra 60mg that’s all I’m gonna say.) I like Man Like Me – hence their appearance in issue 09 of Amelia’s Magazine, approved and their contribution to my Positive Futures USB compilation – so I went along to check them out.

Johnny Langer, <a href=adiposity singer ” title=”Man-Like-Me-2010034″ width=”480″ height=”360″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-11454″ />
Johnny Langer, singer

Arriving fresh from singing Schubert with my hands over my ears at my weekly singing lesson (apparently I have a very musical ear which means I am constantly overanalysing and adjusting the tone of my voice, fact fans) I immediately ran into someone I knew at the head of the long line snaking out of the club – I’d totally forgotten that my friend Dan is now part of Man Like Me, so some friends had come down to check him out. I’d sort of arranged to chat with singer Johnny Langer before the gig but this proved fairly impossible in the cramped dressing room which I’d say is designed for four people at a push. Man Like Me are now a ten strong live band. Go figure. Glamourous new female singer Jessie recognised me instantly, remembering that she met me through a mutual friend. Blimey it’s a small world. Looking very fabulous in a short sequinned dress, she was debating what size flower she should wear in her hair. Large, we all agreed. Large suits Man Like Me.

Jessie, singer with Man Like Me
Jessie, singer with Man Like Me


It’s been awhile since I hung out backstage and I had quite forgotten the mania of a young band before a large gig. Amid the vodka tonic jollity they posed against the beautifully beige walls, Johnny musing over how much he enjoyed creating the tune, Oi John What’s Going On, which appeared on my Positive Futures compilation; a song that wasn’t fixated on love or getting twatted, as most of his creations tend to be. One new recruit to the band is Johnny’s dad, himself a record producer. I asked how long he’s been playing with his son. “I’ve been playing with him since he was a baby!” We chortled at how wrong this could very easily sound.

Dan, I like your glasses

My friend Dan joined the Man Like Me circus last year, bringing along his three piece brass section the JJ Horns, and embarking immediately on a seminal trip to Corsica, playground of rich Parisians. From there the next gig they went to was in glamourous Hitchin in Hertfordshire, something of which Dan is particularly proud. Donning suits and dark glasses the JJ Horns are a dapper foil to Johnny’s charity shop aesthetic.

Dan and the JJ Horns
Dan and the JJ Horns

With the band fully psyched to go I headed out into an audience of particularly young looking creatures, whereupon my friend Anna introduced me to her 14 year old nephew (she has 8 nieces and nephews, I am SO JEALOUS. I am not even an auntie yet!) It turns out that this was officially an underage gig and popping back to the bar I chuckled at the changing demographic. Youth, looking suspiciously drunk on sneaked in booze, getting sweaty up front; oldies (music industry and proud parents) loitering with clutched beers near the back.

Bulked up with layer upon layer of clothing, Johnny arrived on stage hidden behind a clutch of Lidls bags before heading straight into a typically lively Man Like Me set. To the delight of the female fans he proceeded to strip off slowly, from trenchcoat to silly jumper to t-shirt saying Deaf School to bare naked slim chest – leaving a pair of boxers and large deerstalker hat for last, stood astride a ladder, proclaiming to the audience. Such was the excitement that within seconds some irritating wench had clambered onto a pair of shoulders and was blocking our view of Johnny. Perhaps unsurprisingly this same lass was then responsible for a stage invasion of one during the final song. What a yawnsome cliche this has become.


Johnny has a delicate feral beauty that can easily command the attention of a large crowd. As a seer of contemporary life he sings of what he knows best: London Town, being a Single Dad (he really is, with a daughter just 3 years old), of Gucci and doughnuts, falafel and crap TV. Things we can surely all relate to (or hope to escape, if you’re a young lad and don’t quite fancy being a father yet) all imparted with a good dose of humour (just check out their videos for a sense of where they’re at) and a jaunty sing-along tune. The presence of the JJ Horns has brought a fatter dimension to their sound, with Dan happily bouncing along to the choreographed dance moves “I learnt them in a night” and Jessie providing an admirable foil to Johnny’s bouncy stage persona.

I last saw Man Like Me at Secret Garden Party a few years ago and I had forgotten how much fun they are live, with a good cache of tunes that move along at a cracking speed. The sweaty audience was clearly in agreement; they obviously have a sturdy fanbase who are looking forward to the release of a new album as much as I am.


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One Response to “Man Like Me headline the Garage in Highbury Islington on 11th February 2010”

  1. Ollie says:

    I was there! it was great! loved the article, a brilliantly accurate portrayal of how much fun the band are, see them soon!

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