Live Review: NewDad at Band on the Wall, Manchester

Fresh off the release of their debut album, Madra, Galway alt-rockers NewDad came to Manchester for the second date of their headline tour. Read all about it below!

Thomas Hirst

Date published: 26th Feb 2024

Fresh off the release of their debut record Madra, Galways NewDad treated last night's sell-out crowd at Manchester’s Band on the Wall to a mesmeric, neon-soaked show. One that, despite some sound issues, showcased a band shimmering in the spotlight. 

Among the rich vein of bands that have come out of Ireland in the past few years, NewDad - made up of Julie Dawson (Vocals/Guitar), Cara Joshi (Bass), Fiachra Parslow (Drums), and Sean O'Dowd (Guitar) - have been on an exponential rise since their lockdown-ridden early singles like ‘How’, ‘Blue’, and ‘I Don’t Recognise You’, from which their success sprouted. 


Since then, the band have focused on themselves and honed their sound, and whilst a move to London rocked the boat, their debut record Madra doesn’t disappoint. 

With tracks that (in homage to their origins) are lush and ethereal like ‘Dream of Me’ and ‘White Ribbons’, but also ones that showcase their grungier and edgier direction like ‘Let Go’ and title track ‘Madra’. It’s a record that is quintessentially them and one that the crowd at Band on the Wall were fervently anticipated to hear live. 

Before the Galway quartet took stage, it was up to the Cork-based support band, The Love Buzz, to warm the crowd up. With a look straight out the 70s and tracks about everything from vampires to surfing to getting beaten up outside Sainsbury's, their raucous psych-punk sound most definitely got the blood pumping in the Manc crowd, from which they undoubtedly gained a few fans.


Strolling onto the stage to a sustained hum of bass, backlit in neon that shrouded their faces, NewDads onstage image couldn’t reflect their sound better. 

From the opening notes of the opening track ‘Angel’, Julie Dawson’s vocals, angelically soaring over the unfolding psych-grunge soundscapes, had an instant choke-hold on the attention of the crowd. From the angst-ridden lyrics of ‘In My Head’ to the anguish of ‘Dream of Me’ to the unrequited love of ‘Say It’, Dawson's voice melts with the band into a pot of shoegaze-inspired groove, a groove excellently measured by Fiachra’s drums blasts.

Madra single ‘Let Go’ is the first to get the crowd moshing (as per a request by the band), and the dream-pop of early hit single ‘Blue’ floats off the stage, an invitation the crowd dives into with an impassioned sing-along. 


Pleas had been sent via socials for them to play their cover of The Cure's 'Just Like Heaven,' which they had recently covered for BBC Radio 1 Live at Maida Vale; pleas they answered. The classic tune took on a new life with NewDad's unique touch, and the smiles beamed around both sides of the barrier as they played it. 

Unfortunately, however, a few tracks in the set were plagued with sound issues, with the sound cutting out for audience but not band, resulting in some track replays and the odd groan. But despite this, the love in the room prevailed, with the crowd patient and understanding, cheering them on and singing along whenever the sound dropped. 

The set culminated with two classics from the NewDad repertoire. ‘I Don’t Recognise You’ - or as Dawson called it; “the one for the basic bitches” - kicked off the end, and then they finished where they started, with debut single ‘How.’ 


With a brief stint off the stage, during which the rallying call for them to come back out took over the room, NewDad remerged but two members short, with just Julie and Fiachra on stage. 

What they conjured up together, just guitar and hand drum, was a beautifully stripped-back version of Madra’s 'White Ribbons.' Captivating the audience into silence, Julie Dawson's vocals were on full show. Spectral and angelic, this performance could’ve easily been in the backroom of a cosy Galway pub and resulted in the most intimate moments of the whole show. 

To see the encore, and the night off, Cara and Sean rejoined their bandmates for one last track, the titular and concluding track of their debut album ‘Madra.’ A track that encapsulates everything that NewDad are about. From the existential angst of its lyrics to the shoegaze of the verses to the contrasting grungy instrumental kick in the chorus; they chose it to end the record for a reason, and it works as a perfect set-ender.

In the end, despite the sound problems, NewDad's set at Band On The Wall was nothing short of enchanting. Proving to the masses that the hype around them is real, that they are destined to take this show to the biggest stages, and that Julie Dawson is one of the best front-women in the business. 




Want to catch NewDad live yourself? Visit their artist page on Skiddle and find out where else they're playing - HERE

Find a catalogue of the other gigs Band on the Wall have coming up - HERE

Are you missing that buzz when the lights go down at a gig? Get yourself down to experience it by checking out our UK Gig Guide - HERE



Check out our What's On Guide to discover more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.