Manchester Music - Manchester's first and only online Webzine and music guide
Chairs Missing - Look out for upcoming Chairs Missing events in 2002 Music Dash is who we are Soviet Union Records - The Alternative Manchester Label
  


Manchester Music - Music and art links including resources for musicians Manchester Music - Live Reviews Manchester Music - Reviews of all the latest releases that matter Manchester Music - The latest news, information and gossip Manchester Music - Venue guide, links and reviews Manchester Music - Interviews with a difference Manchester Music - Join the mailing list Manchester Music - The infamous message board, where even we take ample stick - quite unfair really Manchester Music - Check out latest promotions and offers Manchester Music - Band index with links leading to news, information and downloads Manchester Music - Local and independent radio broadcasts via the net Manchester Music - Photos links with a Manchester perspective
Click here to view the Manchester Music Chart Click here to view the Manchester Music Chart
Email this Live Review to a Friend Printer Friendly Version of this Live Review
VESSELS SET SAIL
:: Vessels :: Trojan Horse :: Charlie Barnes :: Stuart Warwick ::
01 March 2011 / Academy 3 / Manchester
By Cath Aubergine

Did you know that if you massage the nipple of a male billygoat for long enough, a milk producing udder will pop out in front of its scrotum? You did if you were in Academy 3 tonight: thanks to Stuart Warwick for this fact, divulged mid-set in what turns out to be a rather stranger evening than was initially apparent...

It's four days since Oceansize split up: Manchester's admittedly rather select 21st century post-prog scene is in mourning, but looking forward to a bill booked weeks ago which nevertheless features a couple of torch-bearers for their great legacy. Trojan Horse should need no introduction here, given that MM seems to attend most of their local gigs; this one however is the warm-up for their album launch (that's on Saturday; check the news page). And by god do they sound powerful tonight: great ribcage-crunching metal riffs fighting it out with a cavalry charge of bass and drums; squalling solos in a variety of shapes; vocals that shift from brutal hardcore attack to three-way chants - business as usual, really, just louder and more together than we've ever heard them before. And still shot through with that dark offbeat humour: "This is a new song and we've called it 'Bloc Party' because they've got a song called 'Trojan Horse'." It's a glorious journey, progressive in the literal as well as musical sense, finishing in a glorious little repeating pattern that gradually decays down to dust. They are not Oceansize and nor are they trying to be, but as descendents go there are few more worthy of picking their discarded crown from the battlefield.

Also in this week's other music news (or was it last week?) Radiohead released something, apparently, but if you're one of those people who thinks by far the most interesting thing about Radiohead is the generation of artists who picked up what they were doing and ran with it on about 0.001% of the budget (if MM had a real office I'd be ducking a slap from Mr Edwards about now) then you can skip this bit because you probably know all about Charlie Barnes. Tonight it's solo Charlie, Charlie as we first saw him: one man and his band comprising the astonishing array of percussion that can be manufactured using vocal cords, fingers, a looper and imagination, plus a keyboard he's lugged here from the station on his back. That's suffering for your art. And once again, the quiet young Yorkshireman silences the room with a collection of cuts from his 2010 debut album which as ever manage to sound at once beautifully intimate and jaw-droppingly enormous. "Oradour" is soaring and majestic; "Bedroom" delightfully strange, and his near perfection is only ruffled slightly by falling off his stool at one point, which he rather oddly puts down to "sabotage by Stuart Warwick". At which point the evening takes a brief turn towards the surreal...

Stuart Warwick is unsettled. Actually, scratch that, he's having a full-on existential crisis before he's even struck a note. "For those of you who left and came back in, I'm not Charlie Barnes" he starts, before explaining how a visit to last.fm ("a website I don't fully understand" - that'll be two of us then Stuart) revealed that he had fans in common with another young man with a beard doing voice piano electronic atmospherics: "maybe I should kill him"... Unfair as it seems to draw comparisons after that, Stuart's is a more spacious, bleak and haunting take on this rather odd sub-genre and for the most part rendered on just voice and piano, with electronic assistance so subtle it's more like soft shading than Barnes' bold if twisted shapes. His songs are delicate, fragile little things, stuffing a lot of spine tingles into two or three minute packages. The comparisons are all coming from him: by the end of the set he's slipped the words "Charlie Barnes" into one of his songs and made a (possibly false) confession to stool sabotage - it's staring to feel less like a gig than an episode of some imaginary "Spaced"-like off kilter sitcom. Maybe this will be the start of some sort of shaky alliance, culminating in a dawn raid on James Blake's gaff to ram that vocoder somewhere it was never intended... remember where you heard it first...

Vessels first emerged in the great post-65daysofstatic explosion of two thirds of the way through the last decade, cramming so much into short sets (and indeed onto tiny stages) you'd usually leave feeling like you'd been through some sort of assault course for the mind and ears you didn't truly understand, but in their rapid rise to venues with actual stages something seemed to get lost, and I wasn't the only person slightly disappointed in their Band On The Wall performance last year. This, however, is a renewed and reinvigorated Vessels - with a new album ready to drop any day now they seem from the off to be a lot more comfortable, and the divide between band and audience is immediately flooded with sound. They open with a great big ambient drone which gradually coalesces into a display of dynamic intensity that wouldn't have been out of place in Mogwai's show of a couple of days ago in the much bigger Academy 1, which heralds a brilliantly composed set travelling gradually from 65ish post-rock via electronics into towering, flickering math-prog. As such it's always a bit of a surprise a bit when vocals appear: Stuart Warwick, who's been supporting them all week, lends his voice to some more prog-flavoured moments. Tonight's set is mostly from the new album so a list of song titles will not be forthcoming here, but again like their bigger brothers this is very much a set to be experienced as a whole rather than broken up into tracks, with instrument swapping seamless (apart from when one of them mentions another has left a strap a little sweaty). Eventually it all simmers down in a red glow with them manipulating pedals by hand on the floor and leaving echoes in the speakers even as the lights come up; it's been a while coming, but 2011 could be Vessels' year.

Vessels' "Helioscope" is released on Cuckundoo on 21st March. This will be on it...



Resources:
Vessels
Stuart Warwick
Charlie Barnes
Trojan Horse

Manchester Music - Reviews of all the latest releases that matter

Various Artists..


Manchester Music - All the latest News

Manchester Music - Final Words..For Now.......

ManchesterMusic - Signing Off...

Manchester Music - The Chairs are Missing ...

ManchesterMusic - Farewell...

ManchesterMusic Bows Out...