Don Broco at Victoria Warehouse — neck braces advised, t-shirts and fast food fancy dress optional

It was a sea of lost phones, crowd surfing, circle pits and items of clothing being swung like propellers — and you won't catch one person complaining.

Danny Jones Danny Jones - 14th December 2023

On Wednesday night, Bedford-based band Don Broco brought their unmistakable and more boisterous than ever brand of post-hardcore, nu-metal and everything in between to the O2 Victoria Warehouse in one of the most chaotic and heavy gigs we’ve been to in a hot minute.

And it was glorious — glorious, glorious carnage.

Celebrating ‘The Birthday Party Tour’ and more than a decade together as a group, the British rockers have been around a while now but, in many ways, are only just getting the kind of credit die-hards feel they’ve deserved for a long time.

Their highly praised set at this year’s Reading Festival certainly helped put them on the map to a wider audience, not only giving some extra air time to their unique sound but shining a spotlight on the incredible energy behind their live performances. That being said, we weren’t quite prepared for this…

don broco victoria warehouse review
Don Broco smashed Manchester O2 Victoria Warehouse within an inch of its life.

It had been roughly eight years since we saw Don Broco live around the time of their second album — and not even in 0161; having to travel to Stoke on a random rainy night after their Manchester show sold out in the blink of an eye thanks to already fast-growing cult following.


They were incredible back then but having done some of their very best stuff since then, we were eagerly awaiting to see what those tracks would feel like in the flesh and they didn’t disappoint. Not even a little bit.

To give you an idea of how hard these lads go, frontman Rob Damiani walked out onto the stage donning a neck brace as well as sunglasses usually reserved for skiing. While we initially thought it was nothing more than a gimmick from a four-piece who are always happy to lean into the funny side of their music, he quickly confirmed it was legit and that he’d literally headbanged himself into whiplash.


Nevertheless, it didn’t stop him from jumping around and bobbing his head as firmly as he could get away with whilst whipping the crowd up into a frenzy of circle pits, moshes and a predictably chaotic wall of death. This sort of stuff can turn plenty gig-goers of a certain disposition off, but not this lot.

Don Broco’s pits are pretty legendary as it is, but they’re a different kettle of fish with a Manchester crowd.

Within seconds of walking out to fan favourite ‘Gumshield’, the tone of the night was established right from the off: people stomping their heads off, screaming their lungs out throwing their often middle-fingered limbs up in the air and thrashing the floor of Victoria Warehouse to bits.

We barely spent a single second not bouncing all over the place and immersing ourselves in one of the biggest, sweatiest and most ridiculous pits we’ve probably ever experienced. Ridiculous in every sense of the word, by the way.


From just as many people wearing genuine United shirts as there were Broco’s own p*ss-take merch of the kit in honour of ‘Manchester Super Reds No.1 Fan‘ — another much-loved and heavily sardonic track — to people dressed up as minions, Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders, there was as much to see in the audience as there was on stage.

The KFC and Maccies mascots even got a shoutout on stage and a rapturous round of applause as they crowd-surfed to the front for their five minutes of fame, with people chanting their names just as loud as any lyric on the night.

The set was mostly populated by other tracks off their most recent record Amazing Things (2021), but they still made room for throwbacks like ‘Fancy Dress’ and ‘Yeah Man’ off their debut album, Priorities; ‘You Wanna Know’ and ‘Superlove’ from their sophomore entry, as well as fair few from Technology.

Broco’s sound might have changed plenty over the course of their career but as Rob and co. rightly recognised in a heartfelt interlude before their next rager, their fan base hasn’t just stuck with them but actively encouraged their evolution and embraced every step towards a more bonkers and often intentionally humorous approach.

Be it the comedic music videos, outfits and antics on stage or having everyone do press-up pyramids back in the day, they’ve always been unapologetically themselves and their love of so many genres (including the heftier, harder stuff they drawn from more recently), along with Damiani’s ever-divisive vocals means that once you’ve heard them, you can spot one of their tracks within seconds.


But beyond that, it was the sheer effort both from them and the crowd that stood out to us. After non-stop pits and being swept from one corner of the room to another, everyone in the room was so knackered that plenty were tapping out by the last song. They left everything out there and it felt like we’d all climbed a mountain together.

They felt right at home in 0161 — even behind a bar.

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People had been looking for lost phones and flicking the sweat from every inch of their bodies long before we reached the summit but despite being literally drained within an inch of their life and losing valuable possessions, there was nothing but laughter and smiles on everyone’s faces.

Now that’s the sign of a good gig.

Clearly emotional in bugging up the incredible support acts in Ocean Grove and Trash Boat and thanking the crowd, they informed their army of loyal subjects that they’d been going away for a while but that they’d be back with a new album and more appreciation an unquestionable truth: music is a powerful lifeblood that can see a light break through even your darkest days.

With that in mind, Don Broco signed off their first Manchester gig in ages in the most fitting way possible with what has become a post-pandemic tradition, as countless fans pulled off their tops and outer layers to swing them around for the mental health anthem that is ‘T-Shirt Song’.


It was one of the most magical moments we’ve had at a gig in a long time and one we’ll never forget. In case you were under any illusions that they’re still an up-and-coming rock outfit, you’re wrong: they’re absolute pros and fully serve to be packing out arenas across the world. Now time for a 10-year nap.

You don’t see that often.

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Featured Images — The Manc Group