Live Review – Red Fang / Torche / God Damn, Manchester Academy 2, 30/09/16

  • Phinky posted
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Red Fang / Torche / God Damn

Academy 2, Manchester, UK - 30th September 2016

When I last visited the Manchester Academy, in the Summer of this year, the venue resembled a building site, renovation work was being undertaken which meant the venue looked closed, this severely affected the numbers who turned up to the concert that was on that night, in addition to this the main bar and the smoking area were closed, and as good as the bands were that night these kind of things inevitably impact on your experience. Any concerns I had this would still be the case as dispelled as the complex of four venues that nestle within Manchester University, from the barn like Academy One to the intimate Academy 3, all seem to be back up and running, and the Academy once more looks like its open for business. Although getting into the Academy 2 involved being herded up and down different staircases for no apparent reason I manage to arrive in the venue moments before opening act, God Damn, kick tonight’s show into gear.

God Damn take the stage and one immediate difference is apparent as the duo that comprise God Damn have been augmented by a third member, who initially plays keyboards, I found that this addition added another dimension to the pummelling instrumental they commenced their set with. God Damn are making an almost cataclysmic noise tonight, to my ears they sound like a more intense and heavier prospect than they did on their recently released studio album, Everything Ever, this is in no way a criticism of the band, it’s just a fact. As I wrote the notes for the review the reverberations from the bass drum were doing strange things to my internal organs. As good as their latest album is, the studio seems to have shaved the raw edges off their sound, live these are well and truly evident and God Damn have let loose tonight

God Damn proudly hail from the Black Country, this part of the UK has produced almost all of the UK’s heaviest bands and tonight they do their forefathers proud, whilst they are by no means a metal band God Damn‘s sound lies somewhere between fellow black country legends Black Sabbath, and the legendary West Midlands grindcore crew Napam Death. Whilst they are not as doom laden as the former, or as dementedly frantic as the latter, they make an intense and impressive noise that to my mind is one that is all their own. They announced tonight that their former guitar tech is now a fully fledged member of the band, the expanded line up gives their vocalist free reign to engage with the audience when their latest recruit takes over on guitar duties. Their set is sadly short, and they end their half hour slot with an avalanche of drums accompanied by a wall of feedback that The Stooges would have been proud off. God Damn provided the perfect start to tonight’s triple threat, their sonic assault and the quality of material from their two albums, Vultures and Everything Ever, indicates that I doubt they’ll be playing the opening slot the next time they tour.

Torche are next up, this is a band I haven’t previously encountered so I’m in unknown territory, their heavy discordant opening number, that features a haunting twin vocal attack, reminds me of nothing less than a very heavy and distorted Jane’s Addiction, after this promising opening they kick up a gear with an ominous bass rumble and treble laced guitar that has echoes of early Dead Kennedys, only much much heavier. Torche are another band whose sound can’t be pigeonholed, they vary their sound constantly, from full on alt rock to pounding hypnotic numbers that seems to have elments of Hawkwind, when they were in their prime, incorporated into their sound. They end their set with a prolonged heavy chunk of sludgy stoner rock that is the perfect end to their genre defying set, over the course of their all too brief appearance tonight Torche have incorporated about three decades worth of influence into their set, and this makes for a glorious hybrid of much of the best of alternative music, but with a seriously heavy and distorted undertone that I find very impressive. From the first two acts it’s abundantly clear that this is not your standard rock show, each band is bringing something different to this eclectic, yet unifyingly heavy line up

There’s no doubt who most of the crowd are here to see, Red Fang have packed out the Academy 2, they open their set sounding like the MC5 on steroids and from this point on they play a pummelling set of alt rock that constantly switches style, this is achieved not just through their music, they alternate the vocal duties, from a dark metal growl to a fine rock n roll vocal, depending on the nature of the song. The new material on display from their forthcoming album, Only Ghosts, fits in perfectly alongside their back catalogue and to my ears Red Fang sound like the past, present and future of rock ‘n roll simultaneously. Their energetic set has the sweaty Mancunian crowd enthralled, they are the only band tonight who get a truly energetic response, including some sporadic crowd surfing, from those down the front, and the feeling seems to be mutual as Red Fang clearly love what they do as they enjoy some effortless interaction with the audience, without resorting to rock ‘n roll clichés. Tonight’s show featured three very different approaches to rock, each unique and each equally compelling. The venue, as usual for the Academy 2, had excellent sound and light, the security was friendly and unobtrusive and the floor, as has always been the case at this venue, was reassuringly adhesive from the accumulated beer that’s been spilt on it over the decades.

I have one major problem with tonight’s show and it’s nothing to do with the bands, it was the number of people filming the show on their tablets and phones, by all means take a picture and then put your damn phone away, live in the moment and actually watch the show, if you want to watch a concert through a phone screen you can do that at home, just enjoy the concert as your memories will last longer and be more interesting than your shaky footage with poor audio. Aside from that complaint, that certainly isn’t unique to this concert, all of tonight’s bands were superb and demonstrated different facets of how rock music has melded with different genre’s to produce unique hybrids.