Submotion Orchestra Photo: JK Photography
GIG REVIEW: Submotion Orchestra @ Gorilla
Submotion Orchestra ’s jam-packed album launch tour for the new record ‘Kites’ graced Manchester on Thursday evening – Gorilla was on venue duty as the 5th leg of the tour passed through the rainy city in style. Although the lack of a live band as a supporting act was mildly underwhelming, Agent J soon made up for this as his smooth DJ skills teased an eager & excitable crowd with expertly picked selections of Hip-hop, funk, dub and everything in between. The stage was set for the main event.
With lead singer Ruby Wood absent on their previous album tour 2 years ago, there was an anticipation in the air to see the band back in full flow. Entering the stage all in red to a rapturous applause following the bands opening track – an instrumental masterpiece laced with powerful bass, majestic horns and percussion – Ruby and the rest of the band pushed the acoustics to the limit from the get-go. Submotion Orchestra’s unorthodox approach to creating music – fusing electronica, jazz and soul with a heavy dub influence – generates a mesmerising experience when performed live.
Photo: JK Photography
They had the audience in the palm of their hands from start to finish; everyone in the room was transfixed in awe as they chopped and changed between their smoky ‘slow-jams’ and powerful instrumental tracks, shaking the walls of Gorilla & spinning the room into a groove within an instant – namely with new album track, ‘Tunnel’. It’s always a treat when a band with so many classics do an album launch tour – the anticipation of hearing new music performed live for the first time, combined with the nostalgia of their sublime back catalogue that we’ve grown to know and love, formed a truly special atmosphere.
As Submotion Orchestra left the stage and the lights stayed down an encore was imminent with the crowd all seeming to realise in synchronicity that Submotion Orchestra’s ‘anthem’ was yet to be performed. ‘All Yours’ – from the debut album ‘Finest Hour’ – was a stone wall classic from the moment it was released & is always a pleasure to experience live. Unsurprisingly this was the final song performed, as it has been in previous shows. A momentary silence preceded the intro as lead singer Ruby wore a grin that said ‘‘yeah you know what’s coming’’. It was a fitting end to a flawless gig as members of the crowd rushed to the front, reaching for Ruby’s hand in appreciation for the sheer beauty of the track.
Photo: JK Photography
Submotion Orchestra find themselves in a special category of bands who sound better live than on the record – if you’ve listened to their records you’ll understand the achievement within that. Their tracks are stacked with copious layers of sound, and the passion that goes into their music results in a truly enthralling experience when executed in live format without a single note out of place. Gorilla only seemed to amplify this – a relatively small stage with the 6 musicians shoulder to shoulder allowed the band to bounce off each other and really dig into their performance.
An admirable quality about following the Submotion Orchestra’s live circuit is the diverse range of venues they perform in. Out of the 4 Submotion shows I’ve attended, one was in a 2000-year-old Roman Amphitheatre and another in a small social club in their hometown of Leeds. After absorbing the 6-piece’s music in such contrasting environments, it shows that the band they are not afraid to scale up or down with each type of venue seeming to complement their sound in a different way. However, Gorilla’s intimate (yet not too intense) space and awesome acoustics seemed ideal on the night.
Photo: Jack Pasco Photography
Shortly after curfew Submotion Orchestra set up a meet and greet by the stage selling records and merchandise, at which point I wasted no time in showing my appreciation to each member. This kind of fan integration personifies the honesty and integrity SO possess as musicians, setting a fine example for other upcoming bands. If you can’t wait until the next tour, you can catch Submotion Orchestra smashing the festival circuit this summer across the globe as per with sets at Eden, Farr, Soundwave, Atlas Weekend, Wonder Fields and Boomtown to name but a few.