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Eagle Inn

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: Broken Hands @ The Eagle Inn

WORDS BY NATHAN BAILEY       PHOTO BY TRUST A FOX

Amongst the endless forests of new flats, in that droplet of Victorian red-bricked and red-blooded Salford known as The Eagle Inn, Kentish rockers Broken Hands came back. And with a bang they came, as well as a couple of new singles out on Atlantic, and a new album tantalizingly just around the corner.

Before we get to them, Salford was treated to a set from local boys Cleargreen. They are a proper parka-touting Manc rock band. Lead singer Ali Staley appears to have pinched Roger Daltrey’s luxurious mop. Staley may not quite have the pipes of Roger but this doesn’t matter much as Cleargreen have some nice tunes. In ‘People’, they carry on the fine Mancunian tradition of nabbing glam riffs and sending them to the gym for six months to beef out. The set hops into bright and brash motorway rock and roll, that could have been on commercial radio in the height of July. They go for this best in latest single ‘Gone’. There is more than a hint of the nineties in Cleargreen, and if by chance this passes anyone by, Clint Boon pops up for a cameo in the rather cinematic video for ‘Gone’ because well, why not?

Sandwiched in between the first half of these shirt-off summer tunes and the second half of northern wet weather psychedelia is an interesting cover of Jorja Smith’s ‘Blue Lights’. Whilst the song drops some of its sprawl in favor of racing guitars, it does retain emphatic bars in the verses courtesy of bass player and cagoule aficionado Liam McIver. The cornerstone of Cleargreen’s set and deserving of a special mention is drummer Mike Wilcock. Truly a baby-faced assassin, he is an ice cold figure behind the kit with chops that seem far beyond the years that his ID-please look appears to give away. Cleargreen are definitely worth a watch.

 

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@brokenhandsband last week at Eagle Inn #brokenhands #eagleinnsalford

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After a short break in which to admire the dimly lit beauty of The Eagle Inn, along came Broken Hands. The band has been away from the stage for, well how long? There was some dispute between Dale Norton and the audience as to how long exactly but it’s a good couple of years. In that time they’ve been doing a few legal bits (signing to an American major label is COMPLICATED) and more importantly, doing lots and lots of writing. And so there we were on a damp Monday, a little unsure as to how it was all going to go down. We should have known. Broken Hands if ever they had a little dust and rust from the lack of live shows had already shaken it into the stratosphere before they turned out here. They are a class act, hurtling through the first couple of tunes in a daze of flashing lights and Blitzkrieg bass lines courtesy of Thomas Ford, looking a little like ‘All Things Must Pass’ era George Harrison.

There seemed to be no one who enjoyed all this fuzzy fanfare quite like Dale, who slalomed and skanked about the front of the Eagle‘s little stage, the swoop of his hair like an extra set of limbs as if there were a giant garage rock spider monkey conducting the band. Broken Hands seem genuinely excited to be playing, which creates a cracking atmosphere, and were genuinely appreciative of the reception the songs from the old album receive, especially in title track ‘Turbulence’ which was straight back at the band from sections. It was all smiles!

The band played quite a few new songs too! Some rather atmospheric and almost Suede-esque vocals in the new tracks showed an expansion to the songwriting from the band. The new EP ‘Split in Two / Friends House’ is ballsy and direct, more of a British sound to it than in parts of ‘Turbulence’, however, both tracks really do feel like Broken Hands songs. They have that heavy-yet-sexy signature on them, like Orson Welles in his prime. This is very much the case with ‘Split in Two’ where everything in the song is bouncing off that colossal riff. ‘Friends House’, on the other hand, is a cascading shoe gaze affair. This again hints at a development from the first album but has the same sardonic tone of tracks like ‘Meteor’.

Speaking of good old ‘Meteor’, a fan favorite, the song went down so well at The Eagle Inn that it did indeed set all the fire alarms off. This was of no matter to Broken Hands, who seemed spurred on by this screeching interruption as if they felt the need to keep time with the endless ring. It was no more a hindrance to the audience, who were prepared to risk fire and possibly brimstone to watch a terrific set.

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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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