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Robert Hudson

LIVE: The Limiñanas @ Manchester Academy 3

WORDS BY ROB HUDSON

The Limiñanas are a band that explores music to its furthest capabilities, utilising their instruments in ways that are hard to comprehend. They blend a combination of genres from garage rock to indie-electro and in some instances give it a post-punk twist. This majority French outfit are masters of their instruments all 50 of them, at least that’s what it looks like as they are swapping around their musical tools on stage to create unearthly sounds at Manchester Academy 3.

Joining The Limiñanas on this date are Mister Strange and Working Men’s Club, both of the bands are Manchester based and provide an excellent support show. Mister Strange play their garage rock tunes to a half-packed venue that is gradually getting busier. With a ’70s rock aesthetic the band produce tunes not too far from the era itself, the use of some slide guitar executed perfectly and really complimenting the songs well. Some of the tunes played were purely instrumental, with selected nice riffs and melodies to offer.

The venue is now almost at full capacity as Working Men’s Club take the stage. They look cool, relaxed and ready to play. Opening with a light-psych rock sound not to far from Jefferson’s Aeroplane, with smooth transitions and breakdowns of the initial songs.  A couple of songs later they alternate their sound almost completely, the drummer stands up and grabs a guitar off of the rhythm guitarist and vocalist, she starts to play synth and the lead guitarist starts to take centre stage. Having moved around the band start producing a more intense sound, with the use of synths, heavier guitars and vocals, creating a sound not too far off of post-punk, but there are twists in their song structures making their sound more original rather than reminiscing over Gang of Four and The Fall.

 

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Strange lads killed it!

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What’s to come is another level of musicianship. The Limiñanas. Appearing as a two-piece consisting of Lionel and Marie Limiñana in the limelight of marketing but in reality play as a 7-piece strong outfit, using a vast range of instruments to create a bold and unorthodox sound.  The duo walk on and take centre stage, and begin to play their set, whilst initiating the gig, the other five band members take stage, making it brim-full with musicians. Playing almost an hour and a half set of gripping music, the band do not struggle to hold your attention. Having recorded songs with names such as Peter Hook, I was curious if any of the featured artists would make an appearance, sadly not. However, they make still play the tunes flawlessly without the artists featured on their records.

 

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The Liminanas, Academy 3, Manchester, 7.2.19 @the_liminanas @manchesteracademy

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The sound produced was big, bigger than big. The combination of instruments with the skills required to play them well felt colossus from the crowd marking a celebration of what music should stride for, expressing unusual and exciting sounds that leave the audience feeling positive with smiles across the room. All members of the band hold their own, to note is the amazing Pascal Comelade, who really adds something distinct to the band. He is known to create some of the most original compositions using anything and everything he sees to make music. This band actually left me kind of speechless, what I expected to be more of a relaxed gig judging from their recorded material which feels slightly moody, turned out to be one of the most intense live experiences I’ve witnessed, more Fat White Family than The Kills.

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LIVE: Radkey @ Night People

WORDS BY ROB HUDSON     PHOTO BY EDWINA HAY

It’s Saturday night in one of Manchester’s finest more recent venues Night People where Sheffield based indie-punk outfit Radkey, a trio consisting of three brothers from America are playing. As always, I arrive early, the venue is already at full capacity, occupied of anticipated fans. This is the first time in three years that Radkey has toured the UK making a gig in an intimate venue like this is a rare one.

From Guildford now, Sheffield based Blackwaters are the first and only support of the night. Having only heard a few of their songs I was not quite sure to expect, but whatever my forethought expectations were, they were blown away. Frontman Maximilian Tanner comes on stage sporting an oversized grey suit, probably around 3 sizes smaller than David Brynes during the golden era of the Talking Heads. Underneath the baggy yet somehow fitted jacket is a Bowie tee, as people around the country celebrate Bowie’s two-year anniversary death this deems to be a fitting choice of apparel.

Their set is full to the brim of indie-punk slammers, following in a similar style of the likes of Hotel Lux and Shame but adding a more creative edge to their sets and music, with songs such as ‘People Street’. The energy performed by all members of the band goes unmissed with the guitarist and bassist joining in on songs every now and then really helps create a wholesome and inviting sound. Tanner’s stage presence is like watching a compilation of live performances from the most exciting lead singers in punk and rock ’n’ roll. He has the Ian Curtis epileptic dance but can instantaneously delve into an Iggy Pop-like presence, smooth yet unhinged.

 

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@radkeyrock 🤘

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Radkey are up next a band that some of the audience have been waiting years to see, the anticipation has expired and their hopes can be met. Sporting an all-American outfit, the three-piece are ready to perform their anthemic-punk bangers. The crowd is bouncing to the somewhat heavy tunes the band play, these guys are professionals in their field and perform an incredibly tight set never missing a note which keeps the momentum going throughout the gig. Despite the professionalism the band performed with, this made the gig a bit too clean for a supposedly ‘punk’ gig. Performing long-winded guitar solos that some of the older audience enjoyed sadly come across dated and almost dull in parts.

With such a strong start, their set became padded out with what felt like similar tracks forced into the set. Dee Radke is a truly significant vocalist, with such a strong vocal set I was surprised that parts of the gig felt rather monotone, resulting in the some of the crowd to become disassociated with their performance. Though there were still many people moshing and clearly enjoying the antics. Perhaps I was biased as I am not a fan of the classic rock clichés with ‘blistering guitar solos’ and so forth. That said songs such as ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Homeschool’ and ‘Love Spills’ carried an explosive punch, a vibe I was expecting much more of.

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LIVE: Viagra Boys @ The Eagle Inn | 24.10.18

WORDS BY ROBERT HUDSON       PHOTO BY PHILIPPE REDMOND

Viagra Boys are a band to be reckoned with and are currently touring the UK forcing fans across the country to have their shows embedded into their memory. The Stockholm post-punks have recently released an album titled ‘Street Worms’, a very worthy album if you seek a strong dose of creative and dark guitar music with interesting lyrics. A lot has been said about their shows to date, mainly including terms such as ‘riotous’ and ‘aggressive’ but those words barely scratch the surface when watching this band. I got the chance to see them in the intimate, characteristic Eagle Inn in Salford for what would cement a memory of a great gig.

First up on the bill is Manchester’s native MOLD who perform a gripping set with their tunes that fall somewhere short of post-punk and some kind of nightmare groove creating a sound hard to pin down. The MOLD manifesto states “MOLD IS AN ABSURDIST REACTION TO THE WORLD WE LIVE IN/ IN NATURE, IN YOUR KITCHEN, IN POLITICS, IN GUITAR MUSIC, MOLD ONLY GROWS WHEN THINGS ARE STALE AND START TO ROT. LIKE DADA AND WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU CALL CAPTAIN BEEFHEART, WE SEEK TO RE- INTERPRET OUR MEDIUM” this becomes fact in their live appearances.

Adopting a theatrical appearance with all members of the band wearing black and red face paint, their performance felt somewhat like a show at the west end, especially during their single ‘Puppet Master’ where singers Dan Caldwell and Shane Dickenson performed as if he was a puppet upon strings. Playing up to that showmanship aesthetic the band amazingly performed a cover of ‘Pure Imagination’ taken from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory film. It would usually sound bizarre for an artist whose music is sometimes dark and serious to perform this choice of song. However, this outlandish rendition proved only to make their set stronger. For the last few songs Caldwell handed the guitar over to the percussionist and synth player, grabbed the mic from the stand and joined the audience for what would be a truly intimate ending to a strong set.

Next up is Viagra Boys. The Eagle Inn stage is tiny, perhaps just 10 ft x 7 ft in size and the venue space is not much bigger. With six members in the band – who seem to turnover at a similar rate as The Fall – the stage is crowded but full of character. Front man and tattooist by day Sebastian Murphy addresses the crowd and starts talking about his diet whilst touring the UK: “Vodka for breakfast and Taco Bell for lunch”, a healthy balanced diet for any touring punk artist.

The room is filled to the brim with anticipating fans. They open the set with ‘Down in the Basement’ a fitting song due to the size of the room. The interesting thing with Viagra Boys is the sheer amount of what is going on. The whole entente playing just comes across like a tornado of sound, in such a small venue this feeling is amplified further. Murphy talks to the crowd in between songs, shortly describing the brief behind each tune such as his description of ‘Frogstrap’ where he says something along the lines of “We’ve all been in an awkward situation involving a frog in a room” I think we can all agree – at least the crowd went along with it.

 

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VIAGRA BOYS 💓 #viagraboys #streetworms

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They play a number of songs from their recently released debut album ‘Street Worms’ as well as their single prior to the release ‘Research Chemicals’. The set list was delivered in an interesting way, playing slower tracks at the start such as ‘Just Like You’ then later building up to tracks such as the disorderly ‘Slow Learner’. The aggression in ‘Slow Learner’ came across boldly, Murphy delivered a passionate performance with his trademark dance moves, sadly the thick-rim black sunglasses didn’t make an appearance on the night, but they make up for this lack of continuity by delivering a remarkable set.

Viagra Boys finish the set in what seems to be a hurry, all rushing out the door, forcing their way through the crowd one by one. But they leave the saxophonist unattended playing solo on stage. Playing just one note for what felt like at least five minutes. He stood comfortably as he did so. A drummer ending the set with a cliché solo is common place for modern guitar bands, but a saxophonist? An interesting way to end a set but that’s just what Viagra Boys are: uncommon.

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blinders

REVIEW: The Blinders @ Gorilla, Manchester

The Blinders/ Afghan Sand Gang Photography by @manc_wanderer

In its current socio-political climate, the UK has naturally seen a surge in political punk artists shouting out to combat the angst of modern Britain. The likes of highly-acclaimed British bands Idles and Shame are amongst the array of artists giving Punk its voice in recent times – both with albums out in 2018 – and in a similar vein, come Doncaster’s The Blinders. Spinning their own take on the genre, the trio are a refreshing addition and have been building a phenomenal live reputation over the past few months, whilst adding to the punk-invasion in entirely their own way. Thanks to an energising setlist and their ability to deliver with a hard-hitting dose of sense, the three-piece are now on everyone’s radar; selling shows out up and down the country without fail. As we saw at the back-end of 2017, The Blinders highly anticipated gig in their spiritual home of Manchester’s Gorilla sold out months in advance, making my first time watching the northern favourites truly significant.

Before the main show, kicking off the night were Afghan Sand Gang.  An indie/ desert-rock outfit, ASG are a rising group delivering atmospheric, synth-led chillers with the ability to create an ambient atmosphere throughout their set. A notable aspect of ASG’s sound is down to the fact that the band substitute the traditional drummer with synthetic drums, a growing trend in modern acts in the UK – especially within the bedroom-pop scene. As one would imagine this is partially down to space, supported by the sound created which tends to have a more hazy, DIY feel. We’re looking forward to seeing what these guys 

The Blinders - Afghan Sand Gang

The penultimate act of the night was courtesy of the great Patrick T. Davies. Davies is a contemporary poet; addressing various relatable topics which range from mundane living in your twenties to making generalisations of the readership of national press outlets, all the while stating his views on modern artists and northern musical peers, including The Sherlocks and heavyweights The 1975. 

Now comes the time that the fans are waiting for, the main party… The Blinders set. Entering the stage to Arthur Browns ‘Fire’, frontman Thomas Haywood storms the stage plastered with trademark black paint spread down his face – an appearance that Arthur Brown himself would have approved of as the band instantly kick off with ‘Gotta Get Through’, a single ladened with blistering psych-led guitars, harsh basslines and heavy vocals.  After playing a number of their songs with full gusto, the trio slip in their most recent release ‘L’Etat C’est Moi’ – always an interesting part of any gig which can sometimes fall short. If the crowd’s reaction is anything to go by, the latest offering is clearly a success in the making as the packed-out Gorilla audience throw themselves about the room again, engaging in befitting fashion to the band acting similarly on stage. A sold-out gig in a thoroughly energetic room, the face makeup Haywood first showcased has now started to bleed down his face, marking a stark representation of the sheer intensity of the gig and the impressive showmanship the young band evoke.

The Blinders

Their biggest hit, ‘Brave New World’, is clocked-on early by fans in the room as Charlie McGough’s distinctive bassline introduction ensures that by its end everyone knows what’s just around the corner. On the night, ‘Brave New World’ served to be a modern anthem for “doomed youth”, (I mean, the original has been taken by some men in their forties).  It’s impressive to see how the audience connects to The Blinders material – the crowd in attendance is full to the rafters with both finding-their-feet teenagers and adults alike who have first handily experienced the topics brought to light from the band’s hard-hitting lyrics. Straight after The Blinders tear the room with the sorely apocalyptic banger, the group play an extended version of ‘Ramona Flowers’. There was a lot of emphasis on this song, with the crowd singing along to this twisted ballad – in perfect timing and enhanced by their doting audience, The Blinders manage to flip the feel of the room and amping it to become something truly atmospheric. 

Cliché, but first impressions are everything and my first impression of The Blinders was striking. The adrenaline and energy of the trio’s performance on stage shows that the band clearly go all-out when playing live, and The Blinders are quickly establishing this reputation for themselves – with an explosive set and their ability to engage and read their audience, the band are able to create more than a performance but a lasting relationship with their fans. I would not be surprised if The Blinders were playing to crowds two times, maybe even three, of the size within a year. Coming leaps and bounds since an intimate set in November 2017 for Off The Record Festival at a venue a fraction of the size of tonights venue, The Blinders are making many festival appearances and have just announced a UK-based tour where they are playing a number dates up and down the country – if you haven’t seen this band before, make sure you snap a ticket soon because they are sure to sell out!

Check out out stripped back session with The Blinders below!

 

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