Live: DZ Deathrays + Gardenback + These New South Whales – Band on the Wall, Manchester

It’s not every day you have the chance to catch top Aussie band DZ Deathrays so I cut short a work leaving do to hotfoot it over to Manchester’s Band on the Wall. As I waited for the bands I spotted my future; an elderly gentleman of about 70 with full carrier bag and a tiny notebook full of incredibly closely written lettering. It turned out that that this was Michael and his music blog is a work in development. He comes over to Manchester from his home in Blackpool most weekends, so if you spot him at a table in the corner you now know what he’s up to. He was happy to have got the full setlist from all three bands.

To open the evening’s live fun we had local Oldham lads Gardenback who have been quietly building up a catalogue of gig ready songs over the past couple of years. I thought the trio were musically very tight, proficient and a fine opener for the evening, although to my ear I’d be interested in experimenting with the drumming to see if it could lose about a quarter of their beats and achieve the guys a “less is more” looser space.

The band referenced a whole host of influences in their set and I kind of got a feel for some of those 60’s pop psych bands like The Small Faces, The Stones, a strong vocal which reminded me of Pete Burns (Dead or Alive) and with an overall whiff of Jim Morrison weird thrown in.

It was also good that there was a fair number in to see Gardenback; I do so hate those who just turn up for the main act and you miss a lot of talent that way. The band received a well deserved warm send off and it was clear they had made some new friends.

My brain is still trying to process the main support of the evening, the delightfully wackily named These New South Whales. Likewise I can’t work out if this is the best or worst band name I’ve ever heard.

I had sat near these affable Aussie lads for a while before the gig and they were clearly impressed with the Band on the Wall (and it is an ace venue) and it was a great place for their first ever UK tour.

These New South Wales can’t help but come across like a joke band with their shirtless gaffa taped nipples look (must be a bit wearing on their hairy bits each evening, and it might get tired if the lads have a long career) and the lead singer’s superman sized underpants.

The band have their own TV show on Comedy Central (into series 2 in fact), which is a bit Spinal Tap/Monkees mockumentary. It must be hard coming up with silly skits and ridiculous lost in rock moments and then finding that a friend from a different band just thinks you are taking the piss; totally awks.

These New South Wales have a crisp and uncomplicated Ramones new wave/punk feel to the music, and it really does what it says on the tin. In truth I think the band were just a tad reserved with playing in unfamiliar territory and the anticipated hard prowling of the dance floor didn’t emerge in the end, although gratifyingly a mosh pit did appear towards the end of the set.

I don’t think this is a band who are meant to be over analysed or thought to be profound; just a gang of lads who want to have fun, make music and leave an audience happy. Mission accomplished guys.

So onto the main course; the most excellent DZ Deathrays and the duo are joined by a second guitarist for extra noise and force live.

DZ Deathrays were formed in 2008 so they are old hands at a live performance and they delivered a crushingly tight set. Given the tour name of The Bloody Lovely Tour, it will not surprise there was an airing of songs from their pretty excellent most recent album.

I must fess up and say it took me a little time to warm into the guys, and for the first few songs it rather felt I had gate-crashed some stranger’s birthday party where everyone else was enjoying themselves and I was the outsider. However, when it arrived I got a rush of pleasure from that mix of pulsing insistent noise and clever dance melody. There is something of Royal Blood or Slaves about the band; it’s not just about noise, sounding good is key too.

I was pleased for the crowd surfing that there wasn’t an over zealous security guard squishing every ounce of fun out of the audience, and as is always the way everyone in the audience took care to make sure no one smashed their brains out on the floor. Music fans look out for each other. It was pleasing to see the building full (if not rammed), that certainly helped with the atmosphere.

I don’t usually pass comment on the mix of bands at a gig, but the folks who brought the tight sensible strains of Gardenback, the wacky but straightforward punkish sound of Those New South Whales, and then the heavy dance influenced beat of DZ Deathrays knew what they were doing; this was a perfectly formed trio of sounds  overall.

Chris R


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