Live Review

Deerhunter, Manchester Club Academy

Four of the most exciting musicians on the planet.

The on-stage lighting might make him look like a skeleton draped in ill fitting skin, but Bradford Cox is full of life playing the first night of Deerhunter’s UK tour. The transatlantic travel, however, has clearly taken it’s toll upon him, as the rambles between songs lengthen the further the night goes on. Bizarrely, it seems to put the sounds that the band make into some kind of context, making sense of the senseless masterpieces they create. At one point he seems positively existential, telling the audience that ‘the entire gig feels fake to him, authenticity lost through the hours of flying to arrive on British soils

For the audience, the grip on reality is probably even looser thanks to the waves of noise washing over them. There are many acts about that are happy to undo all the good work that shoegaze has put in over the years in making feedback and noise an important aspect of sound, using both artlessly and without the deft touch of hand that can make it so beguiling. If there’s any band that has truly learnt from the lessons of My Bloody Valentine, it’s Deerhunter. Utilising their technicolour array of wails and loops, they take the idea of repetition and rip it apart, taking the idea slow burning and release to new, euphoric highs.

Support comes in the form of San Francisco’s The Fresh and Onlys. Despite showing a lot of promise on record, they don’t seem to be the same outfit live, with a lot of their urgency being lost amongst a desire to roughen up their sound. In amongst the harsher aspects, there’s still a lot of beauty to be found, and whether or not the quartet are suffering from the same afflictions that make Cox later threaten to throw up onstage is unclear. However, with the minutiae of their sound lost in endless layers of needless fuzz, it’s hard to see their performance as a missed opportunity.

After four critically acclaimed studio albums, the band have more than earned the right to do what they want, and throughout their performance the £13 asking price feels like a small amount to pay for the privilege of watching four of the most exciting musicians on the planet at work. At times, the venue has the feel of a highly personal cult, with men at the front inappropriately thrusting their arms in time with the beat and loud, whooping cheers greeting songs in a way that barely seems plausible for this size of gig.

It’s a safe bet that, without the internet, this gig would have never happened, and the band’s complete absence from the mainstream whilst having every aspect of them – including the Panda Bear and Atlas Sounds solo projects – saturating every decent music message board and website. However digital this revolution may be, there’s nothing false about the screams for more from the crowd before the band come on for their post-curfew encore. As the venue’s light comes on to unsubtly tell the band to end their set, they lap up the ovation before sauntering off. All except Bradford Cox, who lays upon the floor for what feels like an age before slowly turning off his bandmates amps, taking in a rapturous final round of applause and thanking the audience. In an age where music lacks any true heroes, Manchester’s Club Academy can certainly lay claim to having played host to at least four after this performance.

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