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:: The Longcut :: Brakes :: The Long Blondes ::
02 November 2006 / The Warehouse Project / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Information was, it has to be said, scant. A tip-off from Brakes that they'd be playing somewhere in Manchester tonight. A date and venue listed on The Longcut's Myspace page. On the Warehouse Project website there's an address to e-mail for free tickets, so we do. Two of us get no reply, one gets four tickets and another six; there's no rhyme or reason to it. The bunch of Longcut fans in Sinclairs beforehand have 16 spare places between them. So armed with an email print-out we arrive at the venue to see a number of police more usually associated with a football match. Are they expecting a big crowd then?

There aren't that many people inside. It's a cavernous space, literally a warehouse with a stage at one end and a bar at the other. A bar where the cheapest drink - a well known brand of vodka whose promotional extravaganza this is - costs three quid a shot, and the advertising screens' continual references to "the workers" and socialism are more than slightly at odds with the knowledge that not too many months ago a large number of workers lost their jobs here, when Boddingtons uprooted the former Cream Of Manchester to Wales, or somewhere. Funnily enough there's no Boddies on sale. The only beer, a bottled lager, is four quid. Oh, and it's really, seriously cold.

Brakes look cold when they come onstage, and at first there's quite a space in front of them, although a handful of fans are jumping about in it and it soon starts to fill up as their unashamedly indie-ish but sparkling little pop tunes fly past. Some of the newer material even outstays the two minute mark and with their second album they've finally shaken off any remnants of side-project status and matured as songwriters without losing any of their energetic lo-fi appeal. Picks of the new stuff are the Ramones-meets-C86 "Cease And Desist" and the speed-punk-pop "Porcupine Or Pineapple"; there are more of their lovely little country tunes as well, and plenty of shots from debut album "Give Blood", little over a year old and now rightly regarded as a bit of an underground classic. They finish, as ever, with the ten second blast of "Comma Comma Comma Full Stop" and it doesn't feel quite as cold.

Smoke machines puff and coloured lights flash, and as The Longcut come onstage and start up a hypnotic electrobeat there's certainly a hint of the "old school rave" atmosphere that Warehouse Project are clearly tilting at, even if some of the dancing is an attempt to keep warm. Stuart himself of course has a bit of a dance behind his electronics stand, and the next 45 minutes or thereabouts sees the band on absolutely inspiring form as well-loved tracks from their debut album sound bigger than ever. When Lee takes his drumstick to his guitar strings it's like being enveloped in the glorious noise. Most impressive of all however is a new track; featuring a stark, precise electronic beat and icy electric piano sequences from both Stuart and Lee (depending on who isn't doing anything else at the time) it recalls the bleak metallic electronica of early 80s Sheffield and the very beginnings of acid house, when DJs and producers were as influenced by Krautrock as disco. An encouraging pointer to where one of Manchester's most independent-spirited bands could be heading.

Then someone decides it's time to go on the fairground ride, a scary contraption where you all sit in a line and are whirled round in circles sideways; however unless you're built like a bus this also involves rattling around in the seats. I've still got bruises all down my arm. Back inside The Long Blondes are frustrating; excellent stage presence from the heroic Kate Jackson but precious little from her bandmates who really don't look like they want to be there, and the enjoyable punky indie of their excellent singles rendered into a tiresome samey mush. From half way back we can hear neither the guitars nor the lyrics particularly well, and as another trip to the bar would involve a prior visit to the on-site cashpoint (The Warehouse Project knows you will end up way over budget on a night out there) and hypothermia is about to set in, we're out of there. The project runs until the end of the year with a fairly impressive selection of big name DJs and sound systems as well as the odd band here and there, after which I'm told the bulldozers will move in and create a new car park. Enjoy it if you must... but don't forget the thermals and have a few cheap ones in a pub first.

The Longcut
The Long Blondes
Warehouse Project

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