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Gigs and Concerts

LIVE: The Paper Kites @ Manchester Academy

WORDS BY: MELISSA KAPLAN  PHOTOS BY: FELICITY DELL

What began as a harmonic duo-writing song team, Australian natives The Paper Kites have grown into a harmonic international band. They embarked on a tour, stopping by Manchester to a sold out crowd.

Much to the delight of the crowd, The Paper Kites performed live harmonies as they can also be heard on the recorded tracks as all 5 members add a different component to the vocals. While the band is promoting their new album On the Corner Where You Live (and On The Train Ride Home also released in 2018), the room really came alive when the band returned to form on the more acoustic and harmonic tracks.

The audience experience was elevated when the band requested the lights be turned off. The room went silent along with the heart-wrenching lyrics from the song Arms, “What can I give that is all for you? These arms are all I have. But I’ll hold you like I do love you.” There were a few moments you could see small amounts of tears in the eyes and streaming down faces in the crowd – a rarity in modern music.

When surveying the room, the most common theme was the feeling of comfort. The band poured their emotion our right into the audience from the first guitar strum and held on tight throughout the performance. The emotion shared wasn’t from fandom, but rather just the intensity of the melodies and lyrics hitting home.

During the encore the band returned to a similar form with one guitar and 5 vocals. They sang a cover of a traditional Irish folk song, with 3 different band members taking the lead on various verses of the song. The room sang along on the chorus, filling the space with the ambience of warm harmonies.

If you have not yet heard of this Aussie group, give them a listen. My personal recommendations being Bloom, Arms, and Paint. Let The Paper Kites 3 million plus monthly listener-ship on Spotify be validity of this modern band’s rad sound.

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LIVE: Eliza @ YES

WORDS BY: MATTY PYWELL

You may know ELIZA from her old pseudonym, Eliza Doolittle, which she dropped after her 2013 album, In Your Hands. Her flirtatious brand of pop has been swapped out for sultry R&B, allowing her to become even more of a temptress. She released an album back in December and has taken to the path of self-releasing, something which is becoming an evidently more popular trend, the most notable self-releasing artist being Chance The Rapper. Going out on a UK tour gave ELIZA a chance to show people the vision behind her new project in the flesh.

ELIZA comes on stage, adorned in a skin-tight dress and a red glove over her right hand, she’s ready to go and attempts to perform Game, but the microphone isn’t working. In fact none of the vocalists microphones are working and there’s a lot of confusion, before ELIZA has to go off stage. She tells the crowd to go for a drink as they sort out the technical issues. It was a factor that was out of ELIZA‘s hands and was an embarrassing blip for one of Manchester’s stand out venues. After about 15 minutes, the problem is solved, there’s still a hint of anxiety in ELIZA‘s performance, but by the end of the track she’s back to full confidence, providing the crowd with a shoulder shimmy or two.

 

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TEETH MAG

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All credit to ELIZA, she didn’t let the technical glitch hamper the rest of her performance, “let the show go on”, she says triumphantly. They play All Night, which changes the dynamic of the gig completely, the change from slight anxiety to full on vibing in the room happens faster than a click of the fingers. When performing Loveable, ELIZA sings some really soft, yet still incredibly effecting high notes, helped by her backing vocalists who harmonise in tandem in the background. The instrumentals are extremely minimal, a bass guitar and drum kit set the tone of the evening, creating a slow, smoke-screened backing track. The whole crowd is moving along to the groove, ELIZA tells the crowd that this is exactly what she envisaged her shows would be like, she wanted people to, “move all slinky” and slinky is definitely an accurate description.

There’s are a few choreographed dance sequences throughout the set, nothing too strenuous but each one is met with shouts and screams of affection. The track Livid is an ode to the intimacy and vulnerability involved with sex, it sees ELIZA describe making love with her partner as a form of escapism from the outside world. It comes across as a beautiful interpretation of what sex should be. The more the set goes on, the more she gets in to her stride. At times seemingly prowling and patrolling the stage, marking it as her own territory. There are shows of discontent from both ELIZA and the crowd, as it seems as though they’re going to cut the set short.

She refuses to cut it and goes back to performing with a beaming smile. Alone & Unafraid  receives a fantastic reception, there’s a symbiotic rapport between artist and audience, the bass line managing to create a fantastically nocturnal atmosphere. “You never met a girl like me”, ELIZA sings during the final song of the night, Wasn’t Looking. She plays the part of a seductress, there isn’t a man she can’t have and she wanders the stage with a confident air of swagger. It was such a shame that she had to endure technical problems at the beginning of the night, but all credit to ELIZA she did not let it knock her performance. It was a treat of an R&B show, wrapped in mystique and seduction and on International Women’s Day, ELIZA showed herself as a strong, inspiring female character.

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LIVE: SNAPPED ANKLES @ THE DEAF INSTITUTE

WORDS: PATRICK PRESTON 

Not even some minor guest list issues could break my resolve to see one of the country’s most interesting new psych/punk/whatever else bands, who tonight kick off their first proper country-wide tour in Manchester’s historic Deaf Institute. The large upstairs gig room – the fullest I’ve ever seen it – throbs with feverish anticipation, with a smattering of arty students and balding musos visibly excited to witness some new blood on the scene.

The hip-hop pulsing over the PA grips a woman stood near me so intensely that she carves out her own personal zone of non-stop animated dancing, leaving me wondering if she’ll have enough energy by the time the band are on; this turns out to be a taller order than expected, as twenty minutes pass beyond their listed set time (partly due to their recording of a BBC Radio 6 live session just beforehand). It’s no matter though, as, from the sheer complexity of the kitted-out stage setup, it’s clear that this crowd can appreciate the meticulous tinkering and technicality that goes into such performances.

 

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They came from the woods! @snappedankles being completely weird & wonderful.

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Almost instantaneously, a swathe of creepy business suit-clad figures with shaggy, monster-like headgear appear onstage and summon an eerie green light. The audience buzzes with a cheer, unsure of what to make of them, but a quiet yet hurried drumbeat steers them ever forwards, while snatches of warped synth noise fly threateningly overhead and fractured yelps grow in intensity. All of this builds to the explosive krautrock fury of new album highlight Tailpipe, which juggles frantically-thick bass sounds with whizzing stabs of synth; the blocky, stop-start space punk of Drink and Glide and clattering jerkiness of Pestisound (Moving Out) maintain this maniacal energy, evolving in complexity and adding accoutrements to their skeletal frames.

Mononymous (like the entire band) vocalist Austin’s authoritative, doom-laden proclamations throttle the crowd’s attention between tracks, amid scattered percussion and busy instrumental quirks. The garbled electronics of Letter from Hampi Mountain live up to its name with winding, exploratory noise over an addictively fun beat, but only prove how insurmountably hard it is to replicate the extensively detailed album recordings.

Indeed, some essential flourishes seem to be lost in the murky haze, drowned out by the thumping low-end percussion mixing; this doesn’t limit any joy to be found in previous album hits I Want My Minutes Back and Hanging with the Moon, however, which embody a slightly less polished, but more anthemic form of the group’s jittery musicianship.

Despite bringing it back around with new record Stunning Luxury’s lead single Rechargeable, which cranks up its tempo in impassioned bursts, the band do let slip the odd moment of mumbling lifelessness – no doubt attributable to pesky first-show-of-first-proper-tour nerves. After another slew of numbers skirting grungy psychedelia and unpredictable experimentalism – replete with a devastatingly cool vintage organ sound – the group cycle through an unintelligible roll-call, but this couldn’t matter less to the audience, who bubble over into a rapturous frenzy. “We’ve worked so hard to get out of London,” Austin implores at one point, clearly appreciative of their lively Northern reception.

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LIVE: Jeremy Loops @ Roundhouse, London

WORDS BY DOM TAYLOR       PHOTO BY ANNE BETTMAN

Jeremy Loops is an infectious pop/folk singer songwriter who is arguably one of South Africa’s most famous musical exports. He brought his sell out Critical as Water tour to London, his only UK date on this excursion. Situated in the beautiful Roundhouse venue just north of the buzzing Camden Town, people lined the streets in anticipation, many donning South Africa flags with beaming pride. Jeremy is the first South African to sell out the venue in its history, a particularly impressive feat for an independent international artist who said himself “the British media don’t pay much attention to.”

The opener set the tone for the rest of the show as he energetically (for a man for whom this was his last show at the end of a world tour) leapt onto stage with a microphone and harmonica in hand, and a loop pedal at the ready. Thanks to the likes of Ed Sheeran the art of the loop pedal has become somewhat overused, and is seldom taken that seriously anymore. Jeremy Loops however is a master of the art as his name suggests, and he gets the Roundhouse bouncing with his looped beat-boxing and harmonica rhythms.

The rest of the set saw him and his impressive band jumping between tracks from his 2014 debut Trading Changes and his most recent release, all of which were received with rapturous enthusiasm from the crowd. He also brought along frequent collaborator and fellow South African Motheo Moleko, a fan favourite who’s been on some of Loops’ biggest tracks. The set was filled with his classic brand of upbeat folk pop bangers which no one could help but shake a leg to. His raspy vocals accompanied with intricate melodies are even more impressive live, and the chemistry he has with his band-mates is palpable and heart-warming.

 

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A Great Crowd of People! London by size is only just over 1500 square kilometers, and within that space lives approximately 8.8 million people. Put that into perspective, and it is guaranteed that you will almost always be in a crowd. There are bad crowds, these are the ones you get consumed by during rush hour. Good crowds, these are the ones you encounter in pubs, at restaurants, and littered across parks and recreational areas, they are in places you kind of choose to be! Then sometimes there are great crowds. The crowd at the @jeremyloops concert at the @roundhouseldn was a truly great crowd. It was a crowd you wanted to be a part of. A crowd that consumed you, inspired you, and truly just enjoyed you. There was an atmosphere that was electric, accompanied by absolutely amazing performances. It was the kind of crowd you wanted to be a part of in a city full of crowds. In a city full of people. #JeremyLoops #LevitationTour #RoundhouseLondon #London #Camden #Photography #phonephotography #iphonography #Crowds #Inspire #MyPeople #Travel #Adventure #Tour #LoveTour #EuropeanTour #RushHour #Inspired #Smile #ExploreMore #ExploreLondon #DiscoverLondon #VisitLondon #POTD #concertphoto #Concert #LivePerformance #moodygrams

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Not having the most in depth knowledge of Jeremy Loops’ discography allowed me to take a step back and really see the adoration his fans have for him, and it’s not surprising. An indication of the Loops squads dedication is one fan named Dianne for who this Jeremy Loops gig was her 19th. She has travelled the world just to watch him perform, and watching his performance I can understand why. His charm and his positive outlook on life shines through his music, but seeing him live is a truly heavenly experience which brought some much needed South African sunshine to a cold London night. You can listen to Critical As Water as well as the rest of his discography on all major streaming platforms.

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LIVE: Mothers @ Soup Kitchen

WORDS BY KANE MARTIN             PHOTO BY MOJO.JOJO

It’s a Friday. The one day that’s slightly better than the other 6 in the week. Merrily the pre-drinking of premium reasonably priced lager, slightly taught wine, fizz, cider and other liquids are all being pre-drunk. Presumably in flats and other living arrangements in an unanimous ‘do-one’ to the weeks pedestrian headaches and salary motivated activities. With the sabbath of fun on our hands, everything is always a bit more special on a Friday. None the more special as an evening well spent watching bands in the basement of Stevenson’s Squares’ beloved Soup Kitchen.

Tonight, we are blessed with the intoxicating experimentalism of Athens, Georgia’s: Mothers. Touring their sophomore album, the excellent Render Another Ugly Method one of this year’s blistering sonic highlights. If that wasn’t good enough also on the bill two of the most exciting bands that Manchester has to offer the mighty Chew Magna and Blanketman. 

Kicking off proceedings with a hefty serving of snap, crackle and fuzzy pop the awesome Chew Magna, who played an absolute stormer. Taking their name from the sleepy village of the same name there was nothing sleep educing about the band’s set. Currently playing songs from their recently released ‘White Hotel Ep’ recorded in the drug den of the same name, they play 6 songs all of which seem to be sonic love letters to the great idols of American Indie rock I.e. Pavement, Guided by Voices, Broken Social Scene etc. Although the influences are clear, this isn’t parody or poor imitation like say Yuck for example who attempted something similar with their music but lacked the heart and personality to pull it off. Chew Magna do the opposite of this.

They are still uniquely English as the name suggests as do singer’s Laurie Hulme’s vocals, each song stands alone as an ode to a well spent childhood in Northern towns where more than a hand full of Sonic Youth records were hanging around on bedroom floors. With the subject matter of their songs casually swinging from Jean Paul Sabre to Sylvia Plath to “compulsive liars”, they’re a well-read band with much to say both sonically and lyrically. There was even a few non-ironic tapping guitar solos and pure shredding which only added fun the proceedings, plus a disgustingly tight rhythm section whose drummer played so hard a symbol fell off mid song yet they still carried on. They were really the only faultless band of the evening and the only thing I wished was that there were a few more people in the audience to witness the great thing I’d just witnessed. Fun, brilliant fuzzy pop songs that Alex Chilton would be proud to have in his arsenal; go see Chew Magna and if you don’t you deserved to have “I’m really lame” all over your forehead for 3 weeks. 

Next up the hotly tipped MCR Live favourite Blanketman, if you haven’t heard of them already you may have come across them in Friday’s edition of the Manchester Evening News proclaiming them as one of Manchester’s best up and coming bands. From their performance I’m not going to disagree with our local newspaper’s claim. One did feel I was seeing a different Blanketman from which I’ve seen in sweaty basements around the city. There was much less jumping around and slam dancing at this performance as the group settled on more subdued yet hypnotic set. Opening with the angry yet meditative Gridlock Fears (recently recorded by the excellent gang at Dead Basic Studios in the city’s Northern Quarter), the influence of Anton Newcome was definitely felt in the building. Before one was allowed to slip into a deep paisley underground inspired twangy haze, Blanketman would kick you awake with punchy numbers like 5 Days a Week and Flip It Over. These bangers in particular I  saw a few people singing along to, a testament to the band’s growing popularity. They look excellent, sound fab and aren’t afraid to take a few set risks despite their growing popularity. They really added something ace to the evening’s pleasantries. 

 

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Mothers @ Soup Kitchen #mothers #soupkitchen #livemusic #manchester #mcruk @mothersband @soupkitchenmcr

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Finally we have the magnificent Mothers lead by the brilliant sprawling song-craft of Kristine Leschper. It would be easy of this reviewer to make note of the band being from Athens, Georgia home of fellow genre-bending hypnotists Deerhunter and make comparisons to their work, or even suggest that the band sound like a bizarre amalgamation of early 80’s R.E.M., Pylon, Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops and Joanna Newsom. These all being the notes I made on my phone on my phone whilst watching the gig and I still think is somewhat true but in hindsight I don’t think comparing Mothers to a bunch of other bands really gives an honest representation of the uniqueness of the experience of seeing the band.

The cocooning slow-core experimentalism was somewhat torturous and agonising but in the most amazing way possible. To explain what I mean by this, the band would tease you with little blasts of frantic and explosive poly-rhythms, note and mind-bending fireworks of noise. Then halt. The band in stilted in tableaux. Not moving in a self-imposed Pinter pause whilst Leschper would switch between guitar and keyboard with slow painful haunting droning anti-ballads. The band would then unfreeze themselves and join in the dream tapestries of sound and tease you further. None conformists to the rock tradition and audience expectation, Mothers are the forerunners of a new kind of audio experience and one of the most exciting and original acts I’ve seen for some time. I urge for you to buy all their records and merchandise so this beautiful experiment can be continued for the world’s benefit. Do it up suckaa!

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LIVE: Psychedelic Porn Crumpets @ YES

WORDS BY EMMA DAVIDSON

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets aren’t the usual sunny side of Warburtons or in-fact, the first thing you’d want to hear in the morning. The Perth quartet brought their melodic, intricate music to YES’ sold out Pink Room for an evening of hairy fun with their very hairy following. Lit by the neon hue’s of the peony walls, Psychedelic Porn Crumpets tore through the venue, transporting us to the cosmic realms of outer space psychedelia.

The Mysterines were first up, bringing their messy L7 inspired punk rock to an audience already fully immersed in the energetic elegance of frontwoman Lia Medcalf. The Wirral trio’s pissed off psych-rock rattles the chests of onlookers and Lia’s growling vocals are somewhere between Courtney Love and Bonnie Tyler, contrasting the dainty tiara she has placed upon her head. They manage to effortlessly disperse the crowd into a flurry of 1970’s punk pogoing through their song Hormone that emits a natural anarchy and is the perfect pre psychedelia stretch. 

Psychedelic Porn Crumpets have managed to stuff the sold-out crowd in like a removal van transporting the old to the brand spanking new. Their trippy, Dragonforce-esque riffs paint the room in kaleidoscopic colours that disperse the crowd into full head-bang mode sending arms flying and bodies hurling into each other. The sound tonight isn’t the most dazzling but distorted guitars can get lost in a such a small space. Their intricate melodies may be missing in the waves but the audience are now starting to surf each other so I guess no one else has noticed.

 

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Fantastic

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The band glide through trippy tacks such as Cornflake, a song that almost diverts into the speed metal genre lead by the likes of Judas Priest and would be a certain expert challenge for any guitar hero fanatic. They’re a band of very few words but Psychedelic Porn Crumpets manage to keep the room in the palm of their hand for the entire evening like a weird exorcism overseen by the true priests of Aussie psych-rock. The band’s newest single Keen for Kick Ons is met with the response it deserves and rounds of the evening, as calm is restored across the venue everyone is left feeling like they’ve possibly had the best acid trip of their life.

Their mind-altering music has been the perfect match for Manchester tonight. Even though their sound seemed to be a little drowned at times, the energy of Psychedelic Porn Crumpets is no force to be reckoned with. Just sit back and absorb the out of this world sensation that requires nothing more than a sterling head of hair and a back catalogue of trip inducing tunes. 

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LIVE: Mealtime @ YES

WORDS BY FELICITY DELL

Opening the night were the two-piece Darcie, made up of the multi-talented Zigi and Tom. Throughout their gig, I felt vibes hailing from all corners of the musical world, with jazzy piano too ‘synthy’ atmospheric tones that resembled that of Jack Garratt. Both members had angelic singing voices with even Tom hitting some of the high notes.

As is expected from a two piece there is much involvement from technology and the absence of a drummer made way for a drumming machine. Despite inevitable technical issues throughout the show, the duo brought an air of humanity in the way that they made the issues a running gag. This was much to the audiences liking and was responded to with laughter from around the now filling YES Basement. In the final song, I was surprised by the choice of ending, a slow and emotional ballad. However, despite this choice, it paid off, the song in itself was phenomenal and really captured the essence of the band. Their best song was undoubtedly the brilliantly titled How Was She, according to Zigi this song was written about a guy who broke her heart and it really shows, the hard-hitting vocals and the head bopping beat, accompanied with chilling synthesisers and piano.

Up next are the Irish trio Wyvern Lingo, clad in orange they look ready to take on the world; and their music is a testament to that. From their first song, it was clear to see the duo were here to impress, the crowd was singing and chanting along. Mixing powerful women, jazzy bass, technical drums, and catchy drums, what could be better? About halfway through the set, the trio opted to add a cover to their set- in the way of an emotional hit by no one other than Drake. If they hadn’t already they now had the whole crowd on their front, pushing to stage. They announced their final song which was met with a roar of disappointment followed shortly eager chants for more songs. Again, once their set had concluded the crowd cheered-similarly to watching an arena band.

Manc charm, tangled wires and 6 members on a tiny stage. Makes for a fantastic set. The headlines were the elegantly named Mealtime. A band not short of members or drum machines, however unlike some bands every member is a pivotal part of the set, switching (if not difficulty) around the stage to give every member the limelight. ‘Start a synth band they said’, ‘6 members they said’, ‘drum machines they said’ put by the lead singer of the eclectically mixed 6-piece.

The entanglement of wires did become the butt of jokes throughout the set (to the joy of everyone in the room) however it was the entanglement of traditional Manchester vibes and futuristic ‘disco like’ sounds that was most prominent and gripping. Despite Mealtime being a relatively new band on the scene, the room was packed with fans whom of which sang along and occasionally shouted words of encouragement to the overjoyed group. When the band ended it was just too soon for the audience whom of which shouted and began chanting ‘one more song’ but unfortunately it was over. Mealtime had a profound effect on both me and the whole audience and it will be no surprise if they continually crop up on posters all around Manchester.

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LIVE: OHMNS, HAMER, Springfield Elementary & SlowHandClap @ The Eagle Inn

WORDS BY PATRICK PRESTON

Tucked amongst Salford’s rapidly rising number of new developments, the unassuming Eagle Inn opens its winding corridors tonight for a quadruple set of ragtag guitar bands, here to dole out some intense grooves and positive vibes on an unseasonably warm February evening.

Manchester’s own fledgling noise rockers SlowHandClap first tease the small gig room with hurried bass and drum rhythms and spacey guitar leads, before pushing measured, chuggy staccato through a wall of feedback and skulking around a repeated, grinding note. The fuzzed-out bass foundation and sharp guitar stabs of 2018 single Concrete Bodies support a crawling, sardonic vocal part, leaving its cryptic lyrics to echo ominously through the air long after the stage is emptied.

After not much at all of this relative quiet, Springfield Elementary shamble onto the stage, who jerk into life with a sinister, yet delicately-constructed instrumental, before strutting with confidence through some frenzied garage-punk and breaks of deft interplay. The band cut a delightfully ramshackle shape, with the strangled cry of new track Jacked Up On Jesus proving a particular set highlight – as opposed to the ill-advised funk-rock of 5-Second Rule – before closing on a high with a beefy death-rock stomp, which fills the room with a palpable, bouncing energy.

Even were I not writing up the show afterwards, I’d be hard pressed to miss tonight’s sub-headliners, HAMER, whose self-generated buzz of anticipation quickly found its way around the venue. A suitably bold and quirky stage presence acts as the perfect vessel for the band’s furiously intense, borderline-unintelligible take on garage rock, which draws from jittery cowpunk and dizzying psych freakouts. Carefree banter and some truly impassioned game faces are traded between all three members, who all seem to be vying for first place in onstage theatrics. Even during longer, more drawn-out jamming, the tempo barely lets up once – making the trio’s ability to dance between tightly-constructed passages and hypnotic noise even more daring and impressive.

 

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HAMER & OHMNS @ Eagle Inn, Salford #hamer #ohmns #eagleinn #salford #manchester #noiserock #garagepunk

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Ultimately, however, it’s Liverpudlian noisemakers OHMNS who tie together tonight’s disparate strains of punk, noise and math rock into something more streamlined and digestible. Choppy chord patterns and co-ordinated instrumental parts drag themselves forwards, while venomous vocal barbs are traded between nearly all members, leading to simple, yet blood-pumping singalongs; with the night’s uneasy heat and passionate performances, it’s all but inevitable when the band spills onto the floor and shirts come off. Even slowing to sludgy, repetitive bangers such as Paul Is Sure, does nothing to stop this momentum – quite the opposite, in fact, as a chaotic moshpit breaks out for the last few songs. It’s been a punishing night, with ears consistently ringing throughout, but worth it to catch a glimpse of such uncompromising new and noisy talent.

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LIVE: Neneh Cherry @ Albert Hall

WORDS BY PABLO BLANQUITO

The cult of personality can be a strange thing and Neneh Cherry exemplifies that phenomenon in one package. She did when she exploded into public consciousness as the most famous Buffalo Girl and she does 30 years later. A sold-out Albert Hall was thick with the air of Adidas, cagoules and old Hacienda regulars, as the crowd made their way into the venue and it was clear that it was going to be a very generational thing.

All areas were completely full and beautiful staging surrounded the musicians as they took the stage just before Ms. Cherry herself. Dressed entirely in Die Marke Mid Den 3 Striefen (Adidas), draped black and white dress, white shell toes and hair tightly braided. She bounded on stage and immediately threw herself into the rhythms of the band.

The first couple of tracks were standouts from her recent critically acclaimed album Broken Politics. Cheap Breakfast Special being the first song which she messed up but was rescued by Rosie (the incredible multi-instrumentalist ) then apologised with great genuity. This was followed by Fallen Leaves / Shot Gun Shack and Deep Vein Thrombosis – which some found ironic taking into account the average age in the venue. She engaged readily with the audience with charm throughout. Riffing on Vimto coming from the city, Shaun Ryder and all her other connections to Mancunia. This is a multi-faceted woman with numerous influences who has always filtered them into her creative ventures whether that be cooking, music or fashion.

 

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#nenehcherry

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She headed then into upbeat Four Tet-produced tracks from the last two albums. Percussion led and manna to all the mid ’40s/early 50’s ravers who were by now well oiled and ready to dance. Her voice is a lot more powerful live than you’d imagine and her excellent musicians taking her through Afro and Latin-inspired breakdowns allowing her to show off her own floor moves with aplomb. She returned to her most recent album for an excellent rendition of Kong before half apologising for time traveling back to perform Man Child which was an obvious crowd favourite.

The acclaim and noise after each track seemed a little disproportionate to the performance from my perspective. No doubt she was professional and vibrant but as she hit the end of the set she dropped Buffalo Stance and the place erupted in wild applause. Almost as loud as I ever heard in the venue which is saying something.  She returned for a two-track encore and included 7 Seconds another global hit from the back catalogue. Overall a short but tight show with excellent musicianship and staging. However, the overwhelming feeling leaving Albert Hall was how much the perception of cool and nostalgia can affect peoples relationship to music.

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LIVE: Jungle @ Manchester Academy

WORDS: DALE BURGESS     PHOTOS: MOJO JOJO

When stripped down to the bare bones, Jungle is a duo made up of musicians and long-time friends Tom MacFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson. Shift them from the studio to the stage to witness a whole new beast take shape in the form of a seven-piece backing band, who join the Jungle-ites to deliver the pioneering new wave-fusion they’re adored for.

It’s been quite the ride for Jungle since they arrived on the scene six years ago. From their debut gig at humble Manchester venue Roadhouse (RIP), to signing for XL Recordings, releasing their Mercury Prize-nominated debut album and performing on Jimmy Kimmel in the July of 2014 – the boys from West London left shadows in their wake as they shot through the stratosphere of the music industry in their first year. After 4 years of touring, DJing and not only crafting new music but an evolved sound too; Jungle returned in the foregone September with second studio album For Ever.

Nu-disco, neo-soul, modern-funk, eclectic-pop? Try all you want to pigeon hole them, but Jungle’s style is truly avant-garde; instilling positive emotion and jubilation from the moment it’s devoured. Flowing movement and groove radiate from both their audio and visual productions, generating live performances brimming with energy and ecstatic atmosphere. The intricate layers that characterise Tom and Josh’s music are reflected in the live structure – as the Manchester Academy stage resembled a jumble sale of weird and wonderful instruments. From the conventional bass guitars, drum pads and synthesizers to the extravagant spiral shaped symbol and bongo set-up; a playground of musical tools were at the disposal of the eager members of the band to fill their boots with.

Back in the city where live performance began for them, Jungle sauntered out on stage at 9 pm to the sound of ‘Smoking Pixels’ – a drawn-back interlude track from their first album with a guitar and whistle resembling a wild-west vibe. It felt like the band had just waltzed into a packed saloon to the ecstasy of the punters inside. Their trademark ‘Jungle’ typeface glowed up behind the band, as the show lifted off with the opener, Smile – a song packed with rumbling rhythm that also plays the role of track number one on For Ever.

What followed was a beautiful collision of old and new, performed in harmony alongside one another. It was by no means a new album showcase sprinkled with a few classics, but instead a free for all of their outputs as a unified piece of art. The live blending of tracks into one another executed throughout the set epitomised this.

Jungle simply aren’t Jungle without the backing singers, who don’t really stand at the back at all. Their soul-kissed vocals surrounded the music like a technicolour dream coat, with their charismatic energy pushing the already-fizzing vibe up an extra notch. Echoing siren-samples beamed out as the show entered its latter stages, with the crowd witnessing a more experimental approach to some of the classics they know and love. Namely Drops – an ambient anthem from the first album which transformed into an epic breakdown, taking the first-timers in the crowd by complete surprise.

 

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Absolutely fantastic. Jungle ladies & gentleman. #jungle #manchesteracademy

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Throughout the show Tom and Josh often chopped and changed instruments between one another with appreciative grins as they did so, demonstrating the Jungle originators to be as flexible as their music suggests. This love and cohesion binding each band member together curated a mood on stage that played off into the crowd immensely.

At the risk of sounding like a spoilt child in a sweet shop, Cosurmyne and Mama Oh No were absent from the setlist – two tracks that separated the second album from the first in regards of individuality and imaginative production. Not all tracks can make the cut and the band more than compensated for this by treating the crowd to exquisite performances of album favourites Casio and Beat 54 (All Good Now). Classic 2014 single Time rounded off proceedings – an electric end to another stunning Jungle show. Out of the country? Jungle take their tour worldwide before their annual festival circuit this summer, so get on board!

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