WORDS AND IMAGES BY PAUL EVANS
‘Hard, Tormented Punk, Fast-Paced Songs With Hard-Edged Melodies Will Never Go Out Of Fashion’
It’s a warm, sunny night and there’s not a more apt Manchester music venue for tonight’s sold-out gig than the Albert Hall. A music venue situated just two hundred yards from what was the Lesser Free Trade where Dylan embraced guitar electricity to illicit a cry of “Judas”; Christabel Pankhurst held a Votes For Women meeting resulting in the formation of the Suffragettes and small crowds inspired by the Sex Pistols went on to form Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Magazine. A series of events without which tonights headliner simply wouldn’t have existed.
I’m in the former Wesleyan Chapel early and I struggle to make my way through the already full crowd. Looking around I notice a real amalgam of people. Many may have been at The Sex Pistols gig or The Mayflower back in the day and I’m sure the younger mulleted, mohawked, and moustached contingent would have been there if they were old enough. There’s a couple of young punks with Mohicans in slogan emblazoned and studded jackets stood at the barrier and I spot lots of Manchester’s musical faces in the horseshoe balcony above me. Amyl’s reputation certainly precedes them.
First up tonight though are Wigan’s Bruise Control, who are well up for it with their thunderous, powerful post punk. The singer repeatedly saying he can’t believe they’re here and thanking the crowd. They power through their set and immediately get the mass pogoing and crowd surfing looking completely at home in front of the immense audience. This won’t be the last time they’re on a big stage, I’m sure.
The Albert Hall’s stained-glass windows and coloured glass rooflights show that’s it’s still light out-side as the inexorable force of Melbourne’s Amyl and The Sniffers’ take to the high, Baroque and Gothic stage. “Hello Manchester”, “Lose Control” states guitarist Dec as singer Amy Taylor shouts “aaaoooo” before the thundering bass of “GFY” (“Go fuck yourself”) from their self-titled debut LP begins. Amy is fearless and undeviating, she bounces and marauds the religious stage with her intense energy, her blonde, feather cut mullet shaken and stirred as the crowd are immediately bouncing and surge forward towards the stage barrier.
The Short sharp shock of ‘Freaks to The Front’ sees her standing on a monitor punching the air, raging that she’s “shy” and “fucked up” as parts of the crowd begin a riotous mosh pit finger pointing back. During the astounding “Shake Ya” someone is dragged out of the mosh pit for the first time and I can imagine Motorheads‘ Lemmy Kilminster raising a glass and nodding his approval from above. It’s truly a riotous beginning. We’re only five minutes in and it feels like I’ve reached Mach 1 with my burst ear drums and melting face pummelled by the gravelled guitars and vocal angst. Amy takes a quick breather talking to the crowd in her Australian drawl “glad to see you getting sweaty”, “if anyone falls, help them up, don’t hurt each other” laughing “just mildly consensually fuck each other up”.
I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the energy and crowd intensify during an incendiary version of “Security”, the second single from their latest album Comfort to Me. Compelled by the songs skin-tight, forceful rhythm the whole ground floor is jumping up and down, a few shirtless fans in a sweat-soaked bliss lifted to security before they run back into the crowd. Amy urges the crowd to sing along and before the floral plaster decorations and glazed tiles are shaken from the walls, she throws water to cool their intensity. The band are clearly buzzing to be with an adoring crowd in this old religious building. Throughout the set, the energy never wanes as riffs tear and pound through the set with some incredible moments. Cutting through the seemingly impenetrable sound though are Amy’s vocals, ranging between raw angst and tormented harmony and her vigorous, fervent stomping and prowling induces the delirious crowd to sway, push and crowd surf into a further state of sweat-soaked bliss.
Hard, tormented punk, fast-paced songs with hard-edged melodies will never go out of fashion and tonight’s performance is especially poignant given our economic similarity to the depressing 1970s. Amyl and The Sniffers are more than an exciting punk band though. I can’t quite put my finger on what that is at the minute, but I’m sure of one thing, this band will be on everyone’s lips and t-shirts in the next 12 months. Describing them as incendiary simply does not do them justice. World, you have been warned.
Amy Taylor – Vocals
Bryce Wilson – Drums
Dec Martens – Guitar
Fergus Romer – Bass
2/ Freaks to the Front
3/ Shake Ya
5/ I’m Not a Loser
6/ Got You
10/ Gacked on Anger
11/ Guided by Angels
14/ Some Mutts (Can’t Be Muzzled)
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I’ve loved music since forever. Graphic designer, photographer and artist at painted.papillon.smile (www.ppsdesign.co.uk)