The Courettes / Thee Windom Earles – Night & Day Cafe, Manchester, UK, 16th June 2022

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The Courettes / Thee Windom Earles

Night & Day Cafe, Manchester, UK - 16th June 2022

Last October The Courettes made their Mancunian debut at the same venue we find ourselves standing in on a hot and sticky Summer evening in Manchester, at the time I noted that their debut in my home town was one of my favourite gigs of the year, although I acknowledged that there sadly wasn’t a lot of competition for that particular accolade last year. Now with all the surviving venues fully open and seemingly every living musician out on tour there is stiffer competiton than ever, not just for favourite shows and albums, but the choice of who to go and see at the moment is overwhelming, choosing one gig inevitably means you are missing something else in another venue, but ever since this tour was announced I’ve been looking forward to getting another fix of The Courettes.

First up however is the late but more than welcome addition of Thee Windom Earles to the line up, the fuzzed out five headed garage beast have become a staple of the North West’s underground music scene, and at times it’s hard not to see them if you attend regular shows in Manchester’s basements and attic venues. Their typically full on kitsch appeal is on display, something that compliments their garage punk assault perfectly. Did mention tonight is hot and sticky? this is probably exactly how Thee Windom Earles like their crowd, sticky, sweaty, intoxicated and primed for an evening where both of tonight’s acts are rooted in counterculture from the garage punk scenes, if I could have picked tonight’s support band Thee Windom Earles would have been on my wish list.

Thee Windom Earles are about to head into the studio to record their sophomore album, on the basis of tonight’s set this should be something to look forward to, retaining their inevitable adherence to kirsch classic garage punk and rock ’n roll, they are one of the few bands in the UK doing garage punk exactly as it oughta be done. As ever they have the crowd mesmerised / traumatised within the first six minutes. Their tight as fuck garage punk ‘n roll is a spectacle in it’s own right, one that is almost matched by the sight of their twisted keyboard player slowly melting into his gimp mask in the unexpected Manchester heatwave. 

Their latest single Playing Dead brings a sinister element into the set, nobody likes wasps right? but few have composed an epic disturbing single in the subject. There is no one doing what Thee Windom Earles are doing right now, if you are near Manchester go catch them, if not just wait, it’s worth it. They might be reaching back to to punk’s roots but it’s with their own evil twist, quite simply if you love surf and garage punk then these should be on your radar, and in your collection, along with tonight’s headliners. Can I decide who I preferred from the two bands tonight, the simple answer is no, this was a perfect pairing of bands, the kind you only have fever dreams about. 

Last year The Courettes were touring in support of their third album, the critically acclaimed Back in Mono that made it onto numerous best of the year lists in 2021, including The Punk Site’s. This time out they are touring in support of Back In Mono – B-sides & Outtakes, a companion to the aforementioned full length that are both available via Damaged Goods Records. The Courettes pick up where Thee Windom Earles left off, stripped down garage punk with an irresistible fuzzed out attitude that reminds me just why I loved last years gig so much. It’s clear that none of the love generated at the last gig has been lost. The Courettes are maintaining their commitment to safe spaces, because rock n roll is for everyone, and the balance between 60’s girl band and garage fuzz is perfect, none more so than during Ringo, a classic slice of 60s pop and garage fury. 

Stripped back to a two piece you get a pure distillation of garage and 60’s pop, despite releasing an album and a mini album on the last 12 months there is new material that indicates their time on the road isn’t spent idly. So given the scarce competition last year does this match up to my assessment of last year’s gig, the only answer is Hell Yeah. The Courettes bring attitude and charisma that are irresistible. The entire crowd is brought to their knees before the end of their set to remind us what’s is like “spending a year watching Netflix”, do we appreciate the return of rock ‘n roll, if you need to ask that question then you’re at the wrong show. Flavia descends into the crowd during several extended encores to finish their night in pure fuzzed up style. 

The Courettes know how to wind up and work a crowd, not surprising given they have been on the road since last Winter. Faultless crowd pleasing and unashamedly themselves, primal beats and fuzzed out riffs are firmly to the fore, possibly even more so than last year. Tonight was perfect in every aspect from the crowd, to both bands, the venue and the crowd, a night of pure fuzz on a sweltering Thursday evening really is the ideal way to head into the weekend. Tonight felt like Manchester was The Courettes spiritual home, the truth is that their slick show is one that has been honed from a year on the road and anyone catching them on this tour will probably feel the same regardless of their location, but live music is all about how it makes you feel and tonight felt like something very very special.

Photography by Gary M Hough of Shot From Both Sides