It’s almost a year to the day since All Them Witches last appeared in Manchester, since their last appearance they’ve unleashed their finest full length to date, Sleeping Through The War, and are currently touring in support of the album, and they’ve bought The Ghost Wolves along for the ride on their latest European tour. It’s always a good sign to walk into a venue to hear The Cramps being played, standing at the bar you realise they’re playing a good chunk from the Off The Bone album, this is followed by a selection of dark and twisted psyche and alternative which sets the tone nicely for tonight’s opening act. The Ghost Wolves hail from the capital of the most unhinged elements of American garage and psyche, Austin Texas, and they are a worthy successor to the illustrious list of bands from that city, one that includes The 13th Floor Elevators, Butthole Surfers and The Black Angels.
I’ve not encountered The Ghost Wolves before, which is not that surprising given that this is their first UK tour, but knowing Austin’s pedigree for producing some of the best and original alternative bands makes them an intriguing prospect. The Ghost Wolves are a duo comprising drummer Jonathan Wolf, who hammers out the primitive rhythms, and the other element is the primal guitar and vocals of Carley Wolf, their music is borne of The Cramps, Link Wray and delta blues, to create a sound that is the bastard offspring of the dark and dirty elements of rock n rolls history. “Do you like to be good or do you like to be bad” asks Carley Wolf and the answer is obvious, The Ghost Wolves deliver the perfect start to the evening with a set of distorted blues haunted garage punk that is stripped to the bone, and judging by the crowd that are held captivated by The Ghost Wolves set they’ve converted more than a few Mancunians to their cause tonight.
Prior to All Them Witches the soundtrack switches to a more eclectic mix, and as befits a band from Nashville there’s an element of unhinged country thrown into the mix. Sound Control is absolutely packed on this Sunday night, and there is evidence that more than a few of those present are throwing caution to the wind ahead of the working week starting over in a few short hours. Prior to their appearance the Black Sabbath classic War Pigs gets an outing and receives a raucous singalong from a good section of the crowd, which only adds to the atmosphere that is building up in Sound Control, and is starting to make it feel like a Saturday night rather than the end of the weekend, this gives way to an atmospheric and headier introduction that signifies the arrival of All Them Witches.
All Them Witches kick things off in signature style with a hypnotic riff that steadily builds before they launch into the signature southern psyche. Compared to The Ghost Wolves their stage presence is one that is more restrained and reflects that nature of the haunting soundscapes that populate their set. All Them Witches sound lies somewhere between Hawkwind, when they were in their prime, and The Doors. All Them Witches represent part of the resurgence in psyche, who along with bands such as Evil Blizzard And The Great Machine are rescuing the scene from self indulgence. All Them Witches might deliver a set of extended psychedelia but there’s something captivating about their southern psyche. All Them Witches last played in Manchester almost a year ago to the day, and there’s something about their sound that makes them the perfect soundtrack to a season when the nights start drawing in and Halloween is on the horizon.
All Them Witches are not the kind of band I’d normally take to, but there’s something about them that draws me back, and there’s a reason they’re now an annual fixture on my schedule, as I don’t think there’s anyone else delivering this kind of authentic psychedelia out there. I’ll admit It takes me a few songs to tune in what is a very different kind of live set to those that usually attend, but once you slip into their hypnotic grooves you find yourself in a trance and then you’re just along for the ride. Tonight’s show has featured two very different sides of the garage and psyche scene, between Austin’s brash unhinged primitive garage duo The Ghost Wolves and the heady psyche of All Them Witches, but it’s a welcome contrast and one that has made this corner of Manchester the only place to be tonight.
The Punk Site
review of Sleeping Through The War
can be read here
All Them Witches
website is here
The Ghost Wolves
website can be found here
‘s website is located here