Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Peter Broderick @ Academy 3, Tuesday 19th October

If you’ve been to a show recently, you’ll have experienced that many of your fellow gig-goers will feel the need to chat throughout a band’s set. Not at a Peter Broderick show. Tonight the audience stands expectant and silent, almost frightened to breathe, gazing in awe at the stage; home this evening to the Oregon-born multi-instrumentalist. An immensely talented individual, the 23 year old’s extensive back catalogue boasts multiple solo releases, collaborations and scores for ballet and dance, which he somehow fits in between touring duties with Danish band Efterklang.

His quiet but confident manner dictates proceedings, as he casually swaps between a cappella vocals, guitar, piano, violin and even a bowed saw. Performing pieces from his Bella Union releases, ‘How They Are’ and ‘Home’ showcases his evident talent as a singer-songwriter, delicately executing picked guitar melodies complimented by warm and soothing vocal lines. ‘With A Key’ revives memories of Sam Amidon, but it’s ‘Below It’ and ‘And It’s Alright’ that are standout crowd favourites.

However Broderick’s appeal isn’t simply limited to his singing-songwriting abilities, the intelligent use of loop pedal adds to the intricacies and beauty of the performance, and the standalone neo-classical piano suites almost make you feel like you should be sat in a concert hall. The audience marvel as wondrous swathes of sound wash around the room, it’s hard to comprehend how one man can be so engaging. To finish, a sound-check tested experiment with support act Takimono caps off an evening of musical wonder, as Broderick strums a simple folk song backed by Takimono’s manipulated delicate echoing piano riffs. A pleasure to witness such talent, musicianship and beauty.

Words & Images: Simon Bray

Monday, 18 October 2010

Of Montreal @ Academy 2, Thursday 7th October

Of Montreal hit Manchester Academy 2 on the 7th October for what was a colourful showcase of their extravagant neo-psychedelia, funk and indie-pop. Brendan McFadden describes their lavish carnival mix of 7-foot monsters, theatrical face paint, glitter and confetti.

The American band that hails from Athens, Georgia bring a brand of music that takes its best serving of influences from 60s groups The Beatles, Kinks and Jefferson Airplane mixed with a modern twist of Prince and the Arcade Fire. Their eyebrow raising energetic stage show is reminiscent of The Flaming Lips and is a full-on bombardment of the strange and the wonderful. Flamboyant singer Kevin Barnes, the ringleader of this spectacle, marches around the stage clad in a miniskirt bandana and purple tights broadcasting a confident falsetto.

A strange story envelops the stage, involving strange beasts who dance, prance and fight - it has no plot but is mesmerising all the same. At one point a creature fires its toy gun into the crowd and then grapples with another monster who is wearing a gas mask. Providing this entertainment are two dancers/performers who wear everything from banana heads to gas masks, straitjackets and angel wings. The group’s eight musicians are reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band in their outfits, topped with pale theatrical face paint. Watching it all pan out you almost feel like you are Hunter S Thompson in Fear In Loathing In Las Vegas; all of this said, it is a somewhat tamed down performance; Barnes has been known to enter the stage bereft of clothes and riding a horse.

This is as a decent showcase of the group’s more recent material and there's room for many tracks from their recently released album, False Priest. Latest single, ‘Coquet Coquet’, finds appreciative heads in the three-quarter-full crowd nodding in sync. It is a performance that’s full of upbeat funky beats cemented by a loud backing of guitars, violins, keyboards and decoders. A particular highlight is ‘An Eluardian Instance’, one of the group’s bigger hits that sees them jumping up and down on the stage while a pig-headed beast tosses confetti into the grateful crowd.

It is a non-stop fluent flow of music that's lively and upbeat with a fun factor of ten. Of Montreal’s energetic tempo immerses you like a warm blanket, but it’s disappointing to see that sometimes their strident songs manage to get lost in the fusion of noise. At stages tracks become clouded together and it’s hard to distinguish one from the next as you are bombarded by large choruses (like in ‘Enemy Gene’) that explode in a foray of jarring noise; it’s as if their medley of songs becomes a jamming session, which by the end had lost my concentration. In a way the performance overcasts the music, and the melodies become lost amidst the cavalcading atmosphere.

Having just released their tenth studio album they are still pushing boundaries, though, and it’s fair to say they will be around for a little while yet. Of Montreal are a party-band that blast you into an unknown galaxy at warp speed and you will fail to find another stage show quite like it.

Words & Pictures: Brendan Mcfadden

Friday, 15 October 2010

Arts & Music preview, October 2010 (Part Two)

It barely feels like summer has ended thanks to the unexpected burst of sunshine lately, but here we are with mid-October fast approaching. And, since we left your October event highlights glass half empty a fortnight ago, now seems an apt time to fill the rest of your cup.

It’s a busy weekend, no matter what your niche. It could all start on Friday 15th at the newly refurbished Islington Mill with one of a few of this month’s birthday parties – Mind on Fire’s 6th anniversary on this occasion. They’ve invited along eight of their favourites for MoF musical chairs, including LA77, Neko Neko, Woli Wols and xxxy (below), and will even send you home with a goody bag consisting of Hear No Evil, See No Evil’s audiovisual treats.

If you’re at a loose end this Saturday 16th lunchtime then head to Chorlton Park to don a cow mask with Friends of the Earth for a photo shoot supporting their Food Chain campaign. Later on, Debt Records present their annual knees-up at the Dancehouse with John Fairhurst and Louis Barabbas & The Bedlam Six leading from the front.

London promoters Mie Music have seen the light and now ply their trade up here, inviting along the distorted ambient soundscapists Demons for an Islington Mill show on Tuesday 19th. Elsewhere on the same night you can catch part-time Efterklang multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick at Academy 3 for some folk-oriented goodness.

Also celebrating a birthday this month are the tech house connoisseurs, Content. Head over to Joshua Brooks on Friday 22nd and you’ll be able to see / hear / dance to headlining DJ Kenny Larkin. Alternatively that night, American wordsmith Saul Williams is scheduled to wax lyrical in poetic verse at Band on the Wall for Manchester Literature Festival.

Now that your ears are ringing with the tinnitus of a near-month-long sound binge, you’ll likely fancy the prospect of something quieter to mellow the soul. Step forward Trof’s Art Corner exhibition. Staged showcases photography that aims to take a storyboard approach by depicting narratives on a variety of subjects from the British class system to the effects of childhood games. You can view the results any time between now and mid-November.

Another option during this hypothetical sonic siesta might be a stroll down to Mooch's new HQ on NQ's Spear Street for Pain(t) and Ink, which opens for public viewing from Saturday 23rd.

Refreshed and ready to rock, next let hotly tipped antipodes Tame Impala guide you on a psychedelic trip, Wednesday 27th at Ruby Lounge.

Chorlton’s premier folk outlet, Dulcimer, has reeled in Bristolian chanteuse Jane Taylor to top a bill on Thursday 28th that also includes Louis Barabbas and Becca Williams. Expect a duet somewhere along the line.

Naive Melody look to be bidding a fond farewell to their regular monthly discos, but conveniently round off at five years old on Friday 29th with the usual cosmic selection. If you don’t want to confront the end of an era there is another option of a similar ilk. The relatively nascent, yet progressive thinking, promoters HearHere are aiming to tempt you to Soup Kitchen with the double lure of Kompakt’s Ewan Pearson and Andrew 'one half of Fuck Buttons' Hung.

The end of the month (28th-31st) signals the rebirth of arts house Antwerp Mansion, who’ve lined up a four-day event. You can pick and choose your own best bits here.

And squeeze in a trip to Withington that weekend if you can (unless you're already there, of course), particularly if you're enamored with the place and would appreciate a festival that states this emotion. Love Withington Festival takes place on Saturday 30th, predominantly on Old Moat Park, with expected presences of Food Not Bombs (who're looking for volunteers to help on the day and in advance) and the Spokes Bicycle Dancers, amongst others. Furthermore, get involved with the Love Withington group's Street Clean Up earlier that day. Egerton Road is the target for planting bulbs and generally tidying students' vomit and half-eaten kebabs.

Our final tip is Envirolution at the Contact Theatre, which promises debates, interactive workshops, arts and more by way of sustainable living solutions. That'll be free entry on Saturday 30th.

Now take a deep breath because there'll be plenty more next month.

Words: Ian Pennington
xxxy image: Ian Pennington
Antwerp Mansion flyer image: Kris Extance

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

PVT @ Deaf Institute, Tuesday 28th September

Australian music hasn’t given anyone much to shout about in recent years - obviously discounting Rolf Harris and Kylie - but it’s with open arms that we welcome back one of the jewels in their crown, the newly titled PVT (previously Pivot, but there was a law suit or something). Touring to support their second album, Church with No Magic, a record that excites, intrigues, broods and swells, released by the infamous Warp Records.

Before we get a chance to hear any of this new material, main support, Electricity in our Homes prove that playing one chord for a minute at a time and singing out of tune aren’t ingredients for catchy song writing.

An expectant audience greets our Australian friends and as the opening track swells into life the excitement grows. Once in full flow, PVT are undeniably epic, layer upon layer of synth wash around the room, while the thick bass line makes everything around you shake. The rhythmic flow of each track deftly executed by Laurence Pike’s drumming combine with the textures of the percussive beats to produce grooves you can’t help but move to, whilst Richard Pike vocal lines float on top of the mass of sound.

It is not only PVT’s exemplary execution of these tracks which impresses, but the technical brilliance that accompanies it, as sounds evolve and grow, each with their own significant role. The bulk of the set consists of material from Church…, but it’s encore track ‘O Soundtrack My Heart’ that really displays PVT’s full capacity as a live band, building to a huge soundscape that sends shivers down the spine; what more can you ask for?

Word & Photographs: Simon Bray