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Live Review: Kamaal Williams at Gorilla

It is unusual to enter a concert and be greeted by a completely silent room. At first, I thought the first act hadn’t started yet and the crowd wasn’t feeling very talkative after a busy Tuesday. Then the ethereal sound of Madison McFerrins voice filled up the entire space under Gorilla’s industrial railway arch. As more layers of her voice appeared, I realised she was using a loop pedal to create acapella melodies over which she would eventually sing. The crowd were encapsulated by her ability to craft her tracks with her voice as the only instrument. It would be easy to think that she was performing with multiple performers if I wasn’t watching it live. She also included the crowd and set a nice buzz for the rest of the night. It was a much-appreciated start to the evening and brought a soulful female twist and a new discovery for me. She’s an artist I will be following from now on.

Next up was the main event, Kamaal Williams: with Henry Wu on the keys, Josh McKenzie aka McKnasty on the drums and Pete Martin on Bass. From the first few notes I could tell these three were going to work well together and I was excited to hear what was in stall. The crowd was quickly whisked into motion with fast paced drum beats and skilled keywork. This would be the theme for the first half of the performance: a jazzy fusion that people couldn’t help but dance to.

There was a clear artistic relationship between Henry and Pete, they seemed to be challenging one-another with high intensity, pushing the speed and complexity of their sound to a high energy crescendo at multiple points. Around half-way into the performance a repetitive loop was played on the keys, blending jazz with house music. It’s something I haven’t seen live before and by body noticed before I did. I found myself dancing with a two-step, thinking that this wouldn’t go too far awry in the second room of bona fide techno night.

With that in mind, the performance was not fast paced throughout, with a guest appearance from the Manchester based duo Konny Kon and Tyler Daley, otherwise known as Children of Zeus. They managed to incorporate singing into a performance which I was expecting to be strictly instrumental. With hip hop and soul influences, the crowd certainly sounded impressed.

Next up on the stage was Mansur Brown, he was a welcome addition to the stage. He brought a mature, dignified prescience with a calmer flow compared to the start of the set. This worked extremely well and introduced yet another dimension to the performance.

There was many members and a high amount of energy on stage – each member had different vibe but it came together in the music, giving a multi-faceted performance that I’m very glad to have seen.

Review by Adam McCarthy

Live Review: Pale Waves at Gorilla

Placed 5th on BBC’s Sound of 2018, Pale Waves have gone from strength to strength and their sold
out gig at Manchester’s Gorilla proved why they have been described as ‘the goth pop hybrid you
didn’t know you needed.’

As I arrived, Our Girl was just about to begin and I was thoroughly impressed by their set. While a
much darker sound than Pale Waves, Our Girl is an enigmatic three piece band that is set to go far.
The lead singer Soph Nathan was engaging and her vocals had an almost relaxing quality to them. I
was especially impressed by the drummer, Lauren Wilson whose passion and energy made me very
drawn to watching her perform. I really enjoyed their set and have already downloaded several of
their songs!

And then came the main event. The headliners entered to a cool, retro guitar riff which was
accompanied by many cheers from an excited crowd. Opening with one of their biggest hits
‘Television Romance,’ Pale Waves instantly captured the audience excitement with their
performance. Lead singer Heather Baron- Gracie eccentric look perfectly captured the vibe of their
80’s inspired music as her Robert Smith inspired gothic look was complimented with her equally
eccentric moves that accompanied many of the lyrics. While the set only lasted 45 minutes, it was
packed with all the songs from their debut EP ‘All the things I’ve never said,’ while also including
some new songs. Ending on a high with their single ‘There’s a Honey’ that had the audience singing
back pretty much all the lyrics, it proves how much of an impact this band has already had on the
alternative music scene. They were a brilliant, high energy band who are going to become huge in
the next couple of years and they deserve all the recognition and success they have been given.


Madeleine Twigg

Live Review: Superorganism at Gorilla

Superorganism have exploded on the scene and true to their name, have evolved a sound far more experimental and technical than most other artists. True to form, their live show follows the same ambition, sound, and audacity seen in their debut album.

Upon arrival at Gorilla, I was greeted by a real mix bag of gig-goers. There was a healthy dose of students, a few Brewdog-sipping, earplug-wearing 6Music dads at the back, and some younger teens with chaperone dads at one of their first gigs. This mismatch of people really helped generate a relaxed atmosphere, which suited both Superorganism and the support act, Pi Ja Ma.

Pi Ja Ma is a French act specialising in upbeat alt-pop songs, but it must be said that at Gorilla they performed to their absolute limit. Singer Pauline de Tarragon’s vocals pierced through the room, grabbing everyone’s attention, even the Brewdog-sipping dads. Even between songs there was no reason to head to the bar. The back-and-forth between de Tarragon and the guitarist was witty, engaging, and nicely warmed up the crowd before the entrance of the headliners, Superorganism.

Superorganism arrived to a cacophony of noise, strobe lights, and excitement. First up was “It’s All Good”, which then bounced straight into “Nobody Cares”, keeping the rhythm going. Through the whole set the backing vocals of B, Ruby, and Soul kept the rhythm going, and the dancing nicely complemented the feel of the gig.

A special mention must go to lead vocalist OJ, who was struggling through the night with a severe sore throat. Telling the audience that she was in tears during her soundcheck for the BBC earlier in the day, she powered through the gig (with a side-order of tea as a boost) with an impressive performance, sounding as engaging as the debut album does recorded.

The only negative of the show was the length: for a band with one album of only ten songs and 32 minutes in length, I expected a full play-through of the record. However, the band only performed nine songs, missing Relax (a personal favourite). This did mean their whole performance was just over 45 minutes, and for a £12 entry fee, some fans may have felt short-changed. This obviously will change as the band release more records, but some nevertheless may feel something was missing.

Overall, Pi Ja Ma and Superorganism served up an eclectic mix of new sounds, art-pop, and a stunning light show that will live long in my memory. Superorganism are pushing the boundaries of pop music, and their live shows reflect that.



Ethan Davies for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Hollie Cook at Gorilla

Hollie Cook leaps on stage to begin her first headline tour stop in Manchester. The support band ‘General Roots’ begin a deep and sonorous rhythm to get the stirring crowd moving, who had become slightly languid from the wait. The warm beat they lay down is then split-open by Cook’s voice, with an excited ‘Hello Manchester!’ to accompany her elated stage-entrance. Driven by her evident excitement, the crowd fixate on the stage and the night begins.

Despite her new music’s increasing departure from classic reggae rhythms and sounds, the musical style of the night emphasises Hollie’s sustained relevance on the reggae scene. Although her new album, ‘Vessel of Love’ confidently demonstrates her self-proclaimed tropical-pop nature, the tough reggae-rhythmic backing on the night established a firm grip on the roots of her musical style. New songs such as ‘Stay Alive’ and ‘Angel Fire’, which lean more towards her euphoric and ethereal tropical persuasion, are re-moulded and re-rooted in a ‘dubby’ grounding, emphasised not only through the use of digital dub effects, but so too through the inclusion of King Tubby style ‘version’ endings to each of her songs. “Are you ready for a reggae party” she shouts with a nod to the roots reggae enthusiasts present in the crowd.

Hollie’s assertion that she will bring “sunshine in the form of music” is nothing short of fact, bearing in mind the icy sleet outside. At this point, she still hasn’t introduced herself. Whether through a cheeky confidence or an excited amnesia, she waits until the end of the fourth song to explain who she is. Of course, the crowd are fully acquainted with the divine-voiced enigma on stage, yet the humble and gripping affability of her personality that I had experienced earlier in our interview was now made clear, as she spoke to the crowd with a refreshingly genuine tone.

Moving onwards, General Roots begin the melody to ‘Desdemona’, one of Hollie’s most enchanting songs. Accompanying this, she reveals a new side to her stage personality. Replacing her near-bashful illusionary aura, the looming strings of ‘Desdemona’ bring a menacing and alluring presence to the Gorilla stage. This mystifying twist continued as a theme throughout many of her songs, giving the night an excitingly sinister edge; something her new album has slightly forgotten. ‘Milk and Honey’ begins, and the exceptional skill of ‘General Roots’ is accentuated, as once again they strip back melody and enter a dubbed-up version of the song, now allowing each band member an introduction and solo.

They finish, and the encore procedure ensues, this time returning with a firm favourite, ‘Postman’. Hollie explains how Manchester had always had a “special energy”, a comment that taken out of context may seem predictable, yet the glow of excitement on her face asserts its genuine origins. With an ecstatic stint on the keys, reminiscent of her days playing with ‘The Slits’, Hollie finishes the song and leaves the stage, allowing General Roots the stage time they deserve to end the night. The evening provided a musical oscillation; a journey between her newer tropical-utopian-pop and her former dub-inspired entrancing works, each one crisply executed alongside her distinctly cordial charm.




Louis Blatherwick for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Rex Orange County at Gorilla

The sold out Rex Orange County gig at Manchester’s Gorilla definitely lived up to expectations. 

Rex Orange County, otherwise known as Alex O’Connor and is one of 2018s most exciting new artists. The release of his first two albums bcos u will never be free and Apricot Princess have set the bar high; the gig did not fail to deliver the slickness and charm of the records. 

The set was very short, but effortlessly cool and laid back. O’Connor impressed by accompanying his own singing regularly on the keyboard and guitar. The whole gig had an air of relaxation about it. He switched from instrument to instrument and graciously said “thank you” after every song.

A mixture of his first two albums, O’Connor’s songs really brought the crowd together. Picking up the energy with songs like ‘Never Enough’ and ‘Best Friend,’ which induced energetic moshing and some dancing on shoulders provided the gig with excitement. Whereas he also really toned it down and introduced the slower paced tracks such as Corduroy Dreams and ‘A Song About Being Sad.’

A definite credibility moment was when when he asked audience members to put down their phones and just enjoy the music. It was easy listening and one of the most laid back performances I’ve ever seen. O’Connor switched instruments and chatted into his songs effortlessly. He sounded exactly like the studio albums and you could just tell that he is a genuinely talented guy. 

‘Sunflower’, ‘Loving is Easy’ and of course, ‘Uno’ reflected the loyalty in this fanbase; the crowd was word perfect. He was very humble and the trumpet and saxophone players had impressive, individual solos. As well as this, he brought out his girlfriend to sing some stunning vocals during the set. It wasn’t self indulgent at all.

The gig ended with ‘Happiness,’ bringing with it an explosion of energy and screams. Much to the fans’ disappointment, cries for “One more song!” at the end were ignored. 

Short, sweet and simple, just wish the set had been longer.


Jodie Bryant for Fuse FM.

Live Review: Peter Perret at Gorilla

Peter was supported by Bad Parents, who had a slow start in front of a still thin crowd. However, their closing track ‘You Can’t Date a Model’ – previously a Steve Lamacq 6 music recommends – drew a warm response as the Peter Perrett Posse started to arrive and get into the spirit of things.

Peter came out to a raucous welcome. The goodwill for Peter – who has battled addiction problems for many years – was palpable, with frequent back and forth between the former Only Ones frontman and his audience. Perrett was witty (‘Any United fans in? Good of you to come all the way up from London’), charming, and seemed genuinely grateful for the support. His set consisted of a mix of tracks from his new album ‘How the West Was Won’ – the title track of which was a strong point – and classic Only Ones tracks.

He was joined on stage by his two sons, playing bass and lead guitar respectively. Both were impressive and evidently delighted to be able to share in their Dad’s comeback. But, for all the brilliance of his youngest son’s guitar solos and the absurdity of his vampiric, criminally underused keyboardist, it was clear that the crowd were waiting for the highlight track.

At last, to close his first encore, Peter obliged. ‘Another Girl, Another Planet’ had the
crowd bouncing like back in ’78. When he left the stage for the final time, the overwhelming sense was of not only satisfaction with a good gig, but a broader compassion for Perret – perhaps summed up by one punter’s particularly memorable interjection: ‘its good to see back on your feet, Peter.’




Dan McDonagh and Richard Pitts for Fuse FM.