Skip to main content

Tag: live

Review: MorMor at YES

Last week in the basement room at YES, MorMor played his first show in Manchester, and proved that he is an artist of breath-taking versatility and control.

Toronto musician Seth Nyquist, aka MorMor, is something of an enigma. An enigma whose music some reputable sources have labelled “psychedelic indie-pop”. I have no idea how MorMor might feel about that categorisation, because I didn’t get a chance to ask him after the show, and even if I did have the chance I think there’s other things I would rather pick his brains about. Personally I’m not so sure there’s any mishmash genre bracket that can really contain him: his music straddles genres and styles effortlessly, often within the space of a song. One thing is certain though: last week he played a set that was so eclectic, so present and full of feeling –  that it felt like something of a revelation.

For some reason, I and most of the people I know seem to be completely unable to arrive in time to see support artists. I’m not sure what the reasons for this are, but seeing acts like Duendita make me fear that we might have been missing out on a whole lot. Duendita’s music is really one-of-a-kind; filled with tender moments of warmth and genuine feeling. Her deep and jazzy range was textured with a voice that felt somehow joyous and melancholy at the same time. In fact it felt like a lot of things all at once. Duendita used a small vocoder to explode the boundaries that should normally contain the human voice.  In the course of one song “baby-food”, her singing evolved from a bass-coated baritone to a rapidly clipped falsetto that made it sound as if she was being recorded through the engine of a 747 – it actually sounded great I promise. The other band members both blended seamlessly into the mix, providing off-kilter drum patterns and atmospheric synth melodies to accompany Duendita at the centre of it all – an artist totally and gleefully her own.

Then came the break in between, and a moment to savour one of YES’s £2.95 pints (a beverage sensation more than deserving of its own review). MorMor’s band came on stage and started easing in to the first bars of the shimmering, airy “Whatever Comes to Mind”: one of the tracks on his debut E.P Heaven’s Only Wishful, released just last summer. The man himself was nowhere to be seen. But then, just as a cry of “MorMor!” left the lips of a trim-bearded punter, a door opened behind the keyboardist, and Nyquist quietly and confidently made his way to the microphone.

Over the mid-tempo drums, languidly strummed guitar and floating synth chords of “Whatever Comes to Mind” his voice roamed free; delivering smoothly sung-spoke lines which then blossomed into a falsetto somewhere between a whisper and a yell. In person Nyquist’s singing is just as effortlessly expressive as it sounds on headphones, and it was a real thrill to watch him unleash every word in an intimate venue which meant that we were only ever a few metres away. Even without the subtle support of layered vocals, his voice more than had the strength to carry it all.

In the middle of his set MorMor dropped “Lost”; a track that combines massive, droning synth chords and the clatter of a drum-machine to propel crisp, clean vocals. This landed extremely well in the cosy confines of the basement and was a perfect display of the tightly controlled vision Nyquist is able to exercise.  He writes, records and produces practically everything you hear in his songs, and this allows him to craft music in which absolutely nothing is wasted, or even expendable. His stage presence was quietly focused throughout; determined to nail every vocal melody and every guitar part, and achieving this with calm style. There was no sense of aloofness in all this though, he seemed to enjoy himself and thanked us all for coming out to his first ever show in Manchester. He’s a pretty likeable guy really.

What became clear to me, on an almost physical level, is that this music is totally steered by emotion, and that’s a great thing. As a songwriter he has the appealing ability to feel a melody rather than think it: to sometimes let it speak more clearly than words. Very often, he manages to capture a feeling, or even a tangled mess of them, and distil it in one crystalline hook. The coda of “Heaven’s Only Wishful” is one of these such moments, and made a perfect finisher for the set that left the crowd in a satisfied daze. I won’t try and crudely recreate that experience for you here, instead I would urge you to go and listen to it and experience it for yourself.

All in all, MorMor’s set was a powerful statement of his abilities as an artist. It was a performance that seemed to vibrate with the bittersweet sensations of being alive, and with a new E.P on the way this year, it seems that he’s only just getting started.

Review by John Bodyy

Live Review: Maribou State at the Albert Hall

From humble beginnings in Hertfordshire, Maribou State found their musical niche in 2015 with their critically acclaimed debut album Portraits. Now four years later, dance-music duo Chris Davids and Liam Ivory electrified Saturday night at Manchester’s Albert Hall on their sophomore album tour, Kingdoms in Colour. Maribou State were clearly still feeding off the buzz from playing London and Bristol just a few days prior, but still seemed stunned at the energy Manchester had to offer.

The stage was set. Spotlights of blue and white bow their heads, illuminating the balconies, the back wall and finally the floor beneath them. In the gloomy glow the band takes their positions behind keyboards and guitars and drums as the crowd roars in anticipation. It would only seem fitting that they began with the very first song of their first album. The song “Home” is appropriately named: you feel acquainted with the sound. Yet woven into the song are distorted hums and moans to inflict feelings of unfamiliarity.

Kingdoms in Colour features previous collaborators like Holly Walker in “Nervous Tics” and “Slow Heat” as well as U.S. group Khruangbin co-producing one of the album’s two singles “Feel Good”. Walker made her appearance for fan favourites like “Steal” and “Midas”. As she grooved from left to right on stage, smirking to the band as she did, it was clear that their relationship between her and them was more than professional: a bond strengthened by similar visions.

The album is vastly more ambitious than its predecessor. After a Portraits world tour, Davids and Ivory scoured the globe for inspiration. Each song builds to a combination of unlikely instruments in what can only be described as some sort of neo-orchestra. “Nervous Tics” is quickly becoming a personal favourite of the album. It blends Walker’s falsetto with the Guzheng, an obscure Chinese instrument found on their worldly travels. Her voice becomes increasingly indistinguishable from the crescendo of melancholy drums.

What is personally intriguing about Maribou State is that their music somehow suits a rainy Sunday afternoon as much as the depths of Saturday night. Across the crowd you could watch people losing themselves in the music, while others felt comfortable just bobbing their heads. Maribou State is music for whatever mood you’re in.

Their sound is one that begs to be seen and heard live: the performance engages the eyes as much as the ears. Shoddy earphones whilst on a bus will not do the songs justice, but watching them on stage is a delight. They’re young, they’re cheeky, and they’re comfortable in the spotlight.

It’s clear that the group sought to tell their story in their set-list. This is what we were, and this is where we are now. As a last hurrah, the band was cheered back on-stage with “Turnmills”, the second single off Kingdoms in Colour. The song is a slow build-up, but at its peak it’s a club banger and a wild send-off to end the night.

Maribou State has this unique skill of making their music feel alive. Portraits was the same, but listening to Kingdoms in Colour, feels fresh and exciting while also embracing the technicolour empire of sound that made them famous.

Review by Byron Gamble

Photo by @SamNeillPhoto

Live Interview: Saint Sister at The Castle Hotel

Saint Sister is an Irish electro-folk duo comprised of Gemma Doherty and Morgan MacIntyre. On Friday 14th December they played Castle Hotel in Manchester. This venue itself created an intimate setting and feel to the evening, enhanced by captivating harmonies and sounds created by the duo.

The two met at Trinity College Dublin. Doherty recalled, “We were both in Trinity at the same time and met towards the end of our degrees, and we both were looking to make music in some capacity – I didn’t even know what kind. It was that weird time after college. But Morgan reached out and we just went for it. We just started playing together and did what felt most natural, which at the start was just using our two voices and using the harp, and we built it from there. That was about four years ago now.”

Their Manchester gig did not feature their band who often play with them. However, if one were to close their eyes during the set you would not believe you were listening to only two people.

The duo created loops onstage comprised of voices, harp and thumping rhythms, producing a sound that filled the entire room. The emotion and meaning behind their songs are evident when they play, and this held the attention of the audience fully throughout the one hour set. The audience remained in complete silence other than to applaud and cheer after every song. MacIntyre, who writes the lyrics, stated “All the songs are emotional for me and all of them ring true and that stops them from going stale”. In particular, McIntyre says she enjoys playing ‘The Mater’ live, due to its stripped back and intimate nature; “It’s the easiest one for me to tap into the reasons why I wrote it. Because it’s quite a sad song, it doesn’t ever feel like I have to work hard to get into that mood when I’m singing it and trying to deliver it in the appropriate way.”

Manchester’s show was not the most intimate the duo has played throughout their tour, which began in September. Doherty recounted that during a show in Mullumbimby in Australia there was a power outage, “There had been a tropical storm. It just happened as we landed, maybe an hour before our show. So, when we walked in to set up, [nothing was working]. The whole town was out, so [it wasn’t] our fault… I feel like everyone becomes very forgiving in that instance; when all of a sudden it’s everyone’s [problem] to deal with together. There was a guy in the audience just shining a torch up at us. Everyone else was just so quiet, and they sang along if we were playing a cover. They were really with us, even though they probably couldn’t hear a thing!”

Saint Sister’s songs all tell a story, and not just through the lyrics. The instrumentation feels like an extension to the stories told, complimenting the lyrics wonderfully. Doherty explained “We do quite separate things; Morgan focuses on lyrics with the melody a lot of the time, and I’ll work on production or instrumentation and arrangement. We come together quite early on in a song. We both have different roles, and it works well”.

Saint Sister have a unique sound that is a perfect representation of Ireland in 2018; it’s modern but the folk roots are still prevalent. The duo finished their set with a beautiful acapella cover of The Cranberries’ ‘Dreams’. Doherty and MacIntyre’s voices blend together to create rich harmonies, and this cover perfectly highlighted that.

It is clear The Cranberries’ music has had an influence on Saint Sister. When asked which artists they are currently listening to, MacIntyre described a game taught to them by Ciaran Lavery, who opened for Saint Sister during a number of dates on their tour. “He introduced us to a game called ‘Good Song, Better Song’, where you just think of the best song you could possibly think of. My first one was ‘Romeo and Juliet’ by Dire Straits. You think it’s the best song, and then someone comes up with an even better song, and you just keep going. [It’s] good because it can go off in different genres, and then someone [throws] a curveball. We also do this thing, we call it ‘Irish Hour’ and everyone has to pick only Irish acts.”

Saint Sister’s debut album ‘Shape of Silence’ came out in October 2018; if you have not already listened to it, you are missing out. Saint Sister is one to watch.

by Hannah Montgomery

Live Interview: You Me At Six

You Me At Six are headed out on their epic 52-date World Tour. This is nothing new for them, but this tour is extra special because selected dates are also part of the Take Off Your Colours 10-year anniversary tour. This was their very first album and so they are playing it in full, alongside some of their newer hits. This didn’t stop them from throwing in a lot of their old songs on their first night at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse, despite it not being a Take Off Your Colours night. The crowd was with the band for the whole show, but it is safe to say that these older songs got the biggest reaction. In particular, Save It For The Bedroom and Reckless were particular crowd favourites. Their staging included huge video screens with animations and lighting effects adding to the atmospheres of each song.

Frontman Josh Franceschi prefaced an emotional performance of Take On The World with a speech about his love for Manchester. As well as his admiration for the resilience and community solidarity shown in the wake of the Manchester Arena bombing in 2017. You Me At Six were supported by The Xcerts and Marmozets, both of whom delivered electric performances and quickly drew the audience in, gaining more than a few fans.

Ahead of the performance, I sat down with guitarist Chris Miller.

Fuse FM: You just dropped the Back Again music video, it just looked like you were having a laugh. What was it like to film?

Chris: Yeah, to be fair, it was a lot of fun! We just got to bowl all day and chill and dress up in stupid outfits. We’ve done too many videos now where we’ve taken it too seriously and try to be ‘the cool band’ and we just aren’t!

FM: Do you get a lot of input in the videos then?

C: Yeah, the ones on this campaign in particular! Especially 3 AM and Back Again, they were both our ideas and then we worked closely with the director, came up with the treatment together and we’re now good friends. So, it’s just like coming up with a crazy idea and then seeing what you can do. The 3AM was just supposed to be like how you think you’re doing on a night out, whereas in reality you look like an idiot! Then Back Again, we just wanted to take the piss out of a film basically. We all thought The Big Lebowski was a good one to do, because we thought it was a bit of a cult classic. So, if you’re a bit younger you might not know the film, but you could still get something funny out of the video. Whereas, if you have seen it, you sort of get both sides of it.

FM: This is obviously a huge tour, what’s your favourite thing about touring?

C: I just like being in a different city every day to be honest. It’s nice just going around, having a walk and seeing stuff. We’ve obviously been to Manchester loads now but we went to the Trafford Centre today, and I’ve been to Manchester thirty or forty times but never been there! It’s like Vegas in there! It’s ridiculous! So yeah, I just like seeing the different sites, especially when we’re abroad. There’s obviously loads of touristy stuff you can do or just kinda find some locals to take you about and show you what’s good!

FM: You’re doing the two nights in Manchester with different sets, how do you think they will compare?

C: I don’t really know, I’m sure quite a lot of people will come twice. It’s been fun playing the old stuff, it’s definitely fun for the crowd, because some of the songs off the first album we haven’t even played live before. Call That a Comeback, we’ve never played that live ever! So, tomorrow night will be like the fourth time we’ve played it! It’s a weird one for us and we obviously enjoy playing both of them but it’s nice for us to see the difference of playing the first album and then we chuck about 8 or 9 more songs after the first album at the end. So, people get a bit of both!

FM: If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

C: It changes all the time, personally, as a songwriter, I’d really like to write a song with John Mayer, I think that could be really cool. I’m sure Max would probably say someone in the hip hop world, like we’re really into Anderson .Paak at the minute. Which is really cool because it’s got all the rap elements but still a proper band in there. I think we’d go for something completely wild and unexpected and see what happened.

FM: What’s been the best thing of your career so far?
C: There’re so many things! On every album we’ve released there’s been some defining moments. I think back in the day the first time we ever headlined the London Astoria was a big deal for us; because that’s where we grew up going to see bands. It’s not there anymore, so I’m glad we got tick it off the list quite early. Then moving through, moving up the bill at Reading and Leeds is a big thing for us, and being on the main stage there. Number 1 album was a big thing for us as well for Cavalier Youth, it’s just really cool for a British band that play guitars and isn’t in the pop world, to actually be number 1. We’ll just keep aiming high now and see what happens!

FM: You finish up the tour and then play Neighbourhood festival next year. It’s such a musically diverse line up, what’s it like playing shows in that setting?

C: Yeah, I think our day is us and Nothing But Thieves and then like George Ezra and other people like that. Our favourite shows to play are shows where we shouldn’t really be on, like ones that are a bit of a weird line up. When we first started, every show we played in our local scenes was just metal bands, and we were sort of just the pop band on the metal gig. I think for us, we really enjoy playing the first few songs and maybe the crowd’s not that into it, but by the end, everyone’s loving it, so we know then that we’ve done our job.

You Me At Six are on tour in the UK until 9th December before moving on to the European and American leg of the tour.

Interview by Sophie Stevens

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: Parcels at Manchester Academy 2

Darkness. The smell of BO and beer. The nondescript chatter and buzz of pre-show hype. Out from the dark, synth chords start pounding away as a slick guitar riff begins to ring out; the crowd instantly starts bopping away. Parcels have arrived. Straight off the back of their self-titled debut album, the Berlin based Aussie boys have been lighting up the European synth-pop circuit for years and after 2017’s collaboration with Daft Punk, they have been on everyone’s lips. I sat down with the band before they headlined Academy 2 to talk all things music, influences, and Christmas albums. When asked which genre Parcels would describe themselves as, Patrick (keyboardist and vocalist) said ‘I don’t think it’s important, and it’s not very easy to define. I wanna say pop music because that’s the mentality, kind of, but I don’t think people would instantly associate our sound with pop music,’ and as opener Comedown’s disco synths and jazz-like guitar solo suggests, Parcels are musically miles away from the formulaic music dominating most charts today. However, the intense audience reaction, plus their 1.8 million monthly Spotify listeners, shows this 5-piece has a great understanding of what clicks with a listener. As drummer Anatole puts it ‘in Berlin we were pretty influenced by music that was made to make people dance and we try to re-enact that in our lives shows cos there’s something really special about the whole audience dancing to your songs,’ and when smash single Tieduprightnow is finally delivered there isn’t a single member of the audience who can’t help but groove to this masterfully crafted funk hit.

That’s not to say the boys are all about fan service, as they admits that sometimes ‘we decide to mess with the audience, like after a heavy dance song we’ll play a really slow song’ which at points in the set can be frustrating, especially when the crowd desperately wants to just dance and sing along. These creative decisions might be a product of the youthful playfulness and self-deprecating nature of these lads, which is quite refreshing in a climate where bands take themselves and their reputation too seriously. Anatole even jokingly mocks Patrick when he tries to talk me through the pedals and effects they use to achieve their unique synth sound: ‘Oh the way we make sounds, hm it’s very interesting’ jokes Anatole in a faux intellectual voice. The joviality continues when discussing their Daft Punk collaboration: ‘they [Daft Punk] have inside helmets and outside helmets, the ones they wear on their album covers are the heavy duty ones, but in the studio they just wear smaller ones with better breathing space and holes in the side to listen, it’s pretty casual.’ When asked about future projects, keyboardist Patrick jokes about the possibility of a Christmas album, much to the instant disdain of his bandmates, although I for one would love a funk cover of All I want for Christmas Is You, and even John Lennon delved into the festive realm at one point.

That’s part of the quirky charm of Parcels, when the 8 minute long Everyroad is performed, which
Patrick called ‘liberating, as we weren’t trying to make a pop song, we just made it for ourselves
through jamming,’ guitarist Jules and bassist Noah climb up the stage and begin performing a David Byrne-esque minimalist dance. The crowd goes wild for it and you can see from their beaming smiles after their little choreographed moment they relish these moments of absurdity, although this referential moment is superseded by my highlight of the whole show, when Parcels’ display themselves as the collective they truly are. The five bandmates leave their various positions on the stage to form a single line at the front of the stage for the chilled Bemyself, showing the band off as a cohesive, creative unit in contrast to other bands that portray themselves as merely the FRONTMAN and co. If guitarist Jules wasn’t already the spitting image of George Harrison I would’ve forgiven you for not noticing the comparison earlier, but as they stated in our earlier interview ‘when song writing we would always sit down altogether and listen to demos to decide things together, from the instrumental side to lyrics. We never really wanted a main vocalist either; we wanted it to be like The Beatles.’ The impassioned sing-alongs, the creative harmony, the eccentric bandmates, and most importantly the fantastic songs; Parcels are on the Abbey Road to something special.

They leave us on IknowhowIfeel, a surprisingly slow track in contrast to their bigger dance hits but it makes perfect sense when Parcels deliver their last trick of the night. One by one, throughout the song, each band member leaves the stage, starting with the guitarist, and ending on the drummer. By leaving those responsible for the beat to continue by themselves, it installs the catchy tune into the minds of the audience members much like a fade out on a record, so that when the drummer finally leaves the now empty stage, the audience carries on singing the tune without them even there. Genius.

Review by Noah Matthews

Live Review/Interview: Art School Girlfriend at YES

Art School Girlfriend is the moniker of Polly Mackey, a Margate based multi-instrumentalist making waves with her own brand of mesmerizing electronic pop. After hearing of the rising buzz around Mackey’s latest project I decided to see her for myself, catching up with her after the show. She played in the basement space of Manchester’s newest music venue, YES, supported by up and coming dream pop outfit, Dream English Kid.

YES is a venue spread across four floors, each with a distinct vibe ideal for different events. We make our way from the bright stylish pizza bar into the purple glow of the club space below. I take note of a girl in a bright red work-wear boiler-suit thinking it was a pretty original fashion choice. I then notice another suit. Then another. At this point I realise this must be the support band dotted about rather than some lightning fast fashion development I was unaware of. Sure enough the four of them make their way to the stage like a sort of psychedelic British Gas team.

Dream English Kid

Dream English Kid swing into action, playing under grainy black and white projections of trapeze artists, pylons, tiny dancing shadows and more. Though seemingly random, the found footage fits together beautifully into a visual stream of consciousness. This compliments the melancholy dreaminess of Dream English Kid’s music. Heavily distorted guitars along with twinkly electronics and sweet vocal harmonies form a sound reminiscent of dream pop giants, Beach House, though often with a darker shoegaze spin. This is a young band with huge potential and a mature approach to their themes, namely the confusion of growing up in current times. With only one track available so far, I am very much looking forward to future releases.

After a short wait, Art School Girlfriend arrives onto a stage flooded with blue light. A minimalist light box displays her stage name. This moody, stripped back set up creates the ideal setting to get lost in Mackey’s hazy production and sauntering beats. She opens with the flowing violin style synthesizers of An Uncomfortable Month from her 2017 EP, Measures. The band is kitted out with guitars, synthesizers, drum machines, drum pads and a traditional drum-kit bringing new depth to Mackey’s solo tracks. She tells us after the show that her songwriting process never goes from the beginning of the song. She starts with the sounds to be used and forms melodies and lyrics around them. Lately however, the band are somewhat more involved in the process. “It’s getting more collaborative now since I’ve been playing with the boys and now I’m more open to other people having input in the songs”. This shows in their live performance with the full band adding atmosphere and a more organic flow to the music.

The night’s closing track, Moon, is from Art School Girlfriend’s latest EP, Into The Blue Hour, released earlier this year. This is a track with a heavy focus on electronics. Its dark pop beat starts to wake an entranced crowd into a little dance to finish. Moon is a good example of her breakaway from previous guitar led projects. When her last band broke up, Mackey says she listened to a lot of pirate radio stations. In a sense, this cleansed her musical palate. Listening to so much new music has given her a new set of sounds to experiment with and left her less reliant on her guitar alone.

What shone throughout Art School Girlfriend’s set was the expressiveness in her face and voice in such a small venue. To see her perform live is to feel the emotion in her lyrics. There is an authentic yearning in her voice that leaves you longing without necessarily knowing what for. For that full intensity, I recommend you catch Art School Girlfriend playing in one of these more intimate venues. The aforementioned buzz growing around her releases was not misplaced, so I expect she won’t be playing in such small spaces for very much longer.

Check out Moon below:

Reviewed by Hannah O’Gorman

Live Review: Gazelle Twin at Soup Kitchen

For us human beings to peacefully coexist with one another, an element of performance and disguise is critical.  We exaggerate our best qualities and conceal our worst.  We take on characteristics abnormal to us to resolve our differences with others.  However, as much as it helps us prosper as a species, this personal compromise is the source of our unhappiness, frustrations and terror, and makes us fear our own individuality.  Maybe Freud or someone wrote something about it, maybe in Civilisation and its Discontents, maybe in, I don’t know, chapter two?  But who am I to say?  I’m no shrink.

Gazelle Twin is a producer and vocalist from Brighton.  She had a new record out recently.  This is about all I know about her and I’m not sure I want to know any more.  She played a gig at Soup Kitchen on Thursday 4th October, charming and scaring me in equal measure.  Bar an anonymous knob fiddler hunched over a desk to her right, she was alone on a stage devoid of embellishments or decoration, placing the visual focus of the performance entirely on her costume and body.  She pranced around onstage in full red and white attire like a giant tin of Red Stripe channelling Godzilla, leaving only her lips exposed.  Sometimes her performance was reminiscent of rap gigs I’ve been to in her confrontational, just-me-and-the-mic-in-this-bitch demeanour (see above).  But however she carried herself, her physicality was always like an extension of the music itself, and her idiosyncratic dance moves synced perfectly with music.  She yelped, screamed and whispered over broken synth loops.  The huge kicks and shimmering industrial snares scarcely held the tracks together, leaving the crowd asking themselves ‘‘Should we be dancing to this?  Is it going to look bad if I go for a cig?’’.  Her songs are very formulaic and her sound niche.  But it was never boring.  You can get away with it with such musicianship and finesse.

My favourite moment of the night came when she burst into an unexpected acoustic recorder solo.  Somehow she had appropriated this infantile, undignified instrument into something capable of paralysing Manchester’s young scenesters into stunned silence.  If before she was a rapper, now she was an otherworldly nymph, enchanting those who dared enter her realm.  It sounds strange saying that the sheer ridiculousness of her act seemed entirely normal.  At the end of the day she is an illusion, a contrived hodgepodge, a sum of a million different cultural sources, yet with such an original sound and aggressive demeanour.  If she wasn’t so relatable, perhaps we would be laughing at Gazelle Twin instead of lauding her.

Review by Joe McGavin

Photo by Hannah O’Gorman

Live Review: Moses Sumney at The Dancehouse

Upon entering Manchester’s Oxford Road Dancehouse this Wednesday gone, I wasn’t
entirely sure what to expect. This time last year I missed out on Moses Sumney’s London
show, and so now was my chance to catch him at last. Having finally seen him perform live,
I’ll be making sure not to miss the next gig. It’s been a number of days since the show, and I
still find remnants of his enigmatic, hauntingly beautiful vocals, lyrics, and production
swirling around in my memory. The idea of being nestled in an intimate space, immersed in
the deeply sensual sounds from his album Aromanticism, now feels like some short surreal

It was my first time being in the Dancehouse to see an act, and the 1930’s Art Deco complex
perfectly accommodated the other-worldly atmosphere I was soon to experience. We were
welcomed by Moses’ support ESKA, an inventive and idiosyncratic female solo artist. She
performed a diverse range of music merging folk, soul and electronic sounds, completely at
ease with herself and with the eccentric world that she inhabits. Her dynamism via vocal
and electronic experimentation perfectly set up what was to come after her set.
Through a haze of hanging red mist, dressed in his casual loose kimono, Moses made his
appearance. Opening with the clean and crisp plucking of the guitar on ‘Don’t Bother
Calling’, he instantly put the audience under his spell. It was this ability to naturally tap into
the crowd, through his dizzying range of falsettos, carefully crafted loops, vocal layering and
even his own towering presence, that made such a lasting impression on me. Throughout
the evening his great attention to detail in crafting intricate background soundscapes
proved how meticulous he is as a musician, and this was integral to creating the ethereal
and other-worldly atmosphere that filled the room. All of this was facilitated by the skills of
three talented multi-instrumentalists in his band. They expertly merged guitars, violin,
clarinet and keyboard to give each song its own unique sound. One fine example came with,
‘Lonely world’, in which light guitar and a controlled backbeat slowly descended into an
exhilarating heart-stomping anthem.

Despite Moses’ attention to building an immersive, encapsulating atmosphere in the
intimate Dancehouse theatre, he still found room for moments of humorous interaction
with the audience. For several songs, he sought assistance from the audience to amplify the
background vocals. But before doing so, he jokingly added ‘if you don’t know how to sing,
just be supportive of those who can!’. I took this advice on board and remained dutifully
silent and supportive. Moses also snuck in a number of covers before the end of his set,
including Bjork’s ‘Come to me’ and a playful Amy Winehouse crowd-pleaser, ‘I Heard Love is
Blind’. Even an enthusiastic heckler in the crowd got his wish for Moses’s own ‘Man on the

For the encore, I believe everyone in the audience saw the full worth of their ticket with
Moses’ final and arguably most popular song, ‘Plastic’. The gentle lilt of this piece brought a
dreamy finish to a genuinely moved audience. Through the mournful confession of
vulnerability in the refrain ‘My wings are made of plastic’, Moses reminds us that despite his
ability to captivate and entertain with such a spectacular performance, he too is human,
fragile, and he finishes with the reminder that there is an element of beauty in such things.

Review by Sam Howard