FUNGALPUNK GIG REVIEWS
A last minute debate was had whether or not to go to this gig due to nothing more than a shitty cold that wouldn't go away and downright dog-tired feeling that was really pissing me off. The snow shower outside the living room window did little to encourage me to make the effort to the gig but as the perennial idiotic fool that I am I put on my jacket, grabbed my bag and went for it. Thanks as always to my lovely missus for running me to the gaff - a cut above that lass and in her debt forever I lay - and I complain not!
So arriving at 7.50pm in the cold, dank streets of Manchester (when is it any other way) I entered gaff expecting the first band to be up and at it. A quick chat with Dean the promoter revealed that the headline band Leatherface were supplying most of the gear and were running late - great! Anyway an overpriced beer was had, a few more chats and The Fractions got up and did, what was going to be, the penultimate ever show - boo, hiss, bollocks, piss! Poor news indeed and it doesn't seem a minute ago since I saw these dudes at the Backdoor Project (nothing to do with homosexuality) in Rochdale plying their trade whilst still at school and watching their own balls drop. Over the years I have seen this lot swap and change their line-up and style with small wayward mistakes taken and many big successes achieved. They have graced quite a few of my gigs and have progressed to be a reliable outfit which, despite very little practice, they proved to be tonight. Tonight was a good do indeed and I found myself enjoying it even more knowing it could be the last time I ever see them. Drums kept nifty order and have grown in stature no end as have Joe and Graeme on guitar duties with their ever-busy zestful application working well and keeping the attention of the audience. Brass was neatly delivered and movement aplenty was given and the bass steadily but effectively ground out a result and kept all components in line. In parts the set really surged and the warm response from the onlookers was fully justified and it made me proud to know a band who have worked so hard over the years really pull off a nifty set in front of a healthy mass. Favourite song - mmmm - well was there a dud - perhaps, perhaps not but let’s go for 'Streets of Ancoats' and 'England' hey!
Moving on and quite an impressive load of people were filling the gaff with quite a few at the front waiting for the next crew, namely The Great St Louis. Up the band got, rattled off the opening numbers a really got the crowd responding. The set, as per, was all about high saturation point and even though, in the past, I have stated I can take or leave this band I really couldn't get enough of tonight’s performance and thought it was a big opportunity taken by a band who know their noise inside and out. The stick man is perhaps the least noticed which is a shame as his work is darn solid and riddled with a good skill level that regiments the whole cacophonic structure. Both swines of the 6 string stable do what they do with tidy effect and work in unison and so, as stated, keep that sonic blanket piss wet through. The bass though is the choice viewing material with a dude maintaining a good activity level, creating a good work-out for himself as well as grooming the neck of his weapon (now, now ladies) with sublime talent. Gob work was tight jawed and intense and ideal for this kind of tuneage and from the first note until the last very little fuckin' about was had, the power reigned supreme and the guys did themselves proud. I may not be the crews biggest fan but hey I can recognise and enjoy a fuckin' good set when I see one and this was just that - go seek em' out - not bad at all!
And so with a room loaded with punters (a couple of hundred in fact) the scene was all set for a musical infection to take place. Leatherface hit the stage and rattled off the first 4 numbers to a needy crowd but which left me totally unimpressed and somewhat flat. The malignant cancer that is the noise of Leatherface failed to truly creep through to the sinews and so thought was had as to why. Well, primarily the sound was just a trifle off at this point and I did worry the band would leave a sour taste despite a strong reputation. A really poor opening was soon amended by an upsurge in insistence and it wasn't long before many a tumour of toneage was breaking out here, there and everywhere and the band were in full swing. It is always a concern when a band comes and promises so much and starts without any aid from the acoustic assistant but hey, that is their problem and one, any crew worth their salt, should and would overcome. Leatherface stuck at it, dug deep, played with hard intent and in truth came out with all flying flags in tact. The noise is metallic in parts, flamboyant in others, borders on something hard-edged, dabbles with a sub-generic essence and sometimes aches with Americana undertones. The windblown disease the band deliver is nothing less than an acquired taste and I can see how the band have become something of an underground cult unit that inspires many follows to make a racket of their own. The winning aspect for me is the way the players are absorbed in their output especially that intense frontman Mr Frankie Stubbs. As the set progressed the crowd rose and success was floating around the gaff in high excess with loads of post punk progressiveness the order of the punter. ‘Sour Grapes’ stood out and yet there were so many others to ponder – so think on!
A chat with a few faces regarding their thoughts and despite the dodgy initial sound it was agreed the band came through and so off home I did fuck! Another view, another review- goodnight!
review by OMD (10 December 2011)