This is my first visit to Sound Control, although I have heard it’s a cool little venue and the reports prove correct. Situated right in the heart of Manchester’s University community, just off Oxford Rd and almost immediately across from the BBC, it’s perfectly positioned to attract the student clientele. It’s one of those hole in the wall locations, where everything opens up as you enter, with the main band area being upstairs.
While Japanese Voyeurs don’t have a great deal of recorded music out for public consumption at the moment, I have been extremely impressed by what I’ve heard of their heavy, grungy sound and I’m anticipating an exciting performance tonight.
Bang on time, the band walk on to suitably atmospheric, Omen style music, strap on their instruments where applicable and off we go with “You’re So Cool.” Now I’m a big fan of rhythm sections, as anyone who reads my reviews has probably picked up, but not at the expense of being able to hear anything else at all. While being no fault of the band, the sound is very poor and there is literally just a wall of noise, with very little chance of being able to pick out anything other than the drums, (which were impressively solid admittedly.) I wonder if being stood on the barrier was the problem, but even moving back towards the centre of the room showed little, if any improvement. I’d really like to be able to report on how great Romily’s distinctive vocal sounded, how fantastic Johnny’s guitar work came across and how Rich’s keyboard melded beautifully into the melee but I can’t, as I could hardly hear them. Being completely honest, if I hadn’t been stood around 2 metres away from Rich, I would have suggested there wasn’t even a keyboard on stage.
What I can report, is that the band looked great, especially Romily, resplendent in her black D.M’s and there was also plenty of energy on stage with hair flying everywhere when they really rocked out. Johnny also showed some nifty work with a beer bottle as a slide, (which is becoming quite commonplace, see the review of Teeth of the Sea supporting British Sea Power) and Tom has the bass stance down to a fine art. The sound was so frustrating however as I could hardly even make out personal favourite “Milk Teeth” from the set. The irony of being in “Sound Control” wasn’t lost.
I really hope I have a chance to see Japanese Voyeurs again, as tonight gave no flavour of what their music is all about. I’ll just have to listen to the singles and head to YouTube again, just for now.
You’re So Cool
I was extremely surprised to find the next band up were Dinosaur Pile-Up, as I had expected them to headline tonight. I can only assume the Rock Sound Exposure tour is switching around the running order, which would also explain the slight confusion earlier in the day over the stage time for Japanese Voyeurs. After the drive from South East to North West, this did however suit me I have to admit, (apologies to The Xcerts for not hanging around.) Their album “Growing Pains” has been a regular for me on the ipod since the end of last year, with again a really heavyweight grungy sound, but with additional strong melodies, especially in tracks like “Mona Lisa” the title of which adorns Matt Biglands amps.
What amazed me even more is that Sound Control was only at best half full, as I would have expected the band to attract a much larger audience. Undaunted, Dinosaur Pile-Up blasted into “Barce-lona” and produced an all round fantastic performance. I have a feeling the band had brought along their own sound man as Matt referred to him by name when asking for both his, and bassist Harry John’s levels to be lifted, which made all the difference. The three piece make a monstrously big noise, which arrives mainly through the bar chord heavy guitar of Bigland, but is more than ably supported by the rhythm section, also including Mike Shiels on drums. Inexplicably, although perfect for the mosh pit, the Sound Control crowd were extremely muted tonight, (even the Dinosaur suit clad uber fan, although he must have been amazingly hot in that outfit) and it wasn’t until set highlight “My Rock n Roll” that anybody really started to become animated. Thursday must be a tiring day in the lecture halls.
Again, an abundance of energy on stage, especially from John’s and they finished with a storming version of “Traynor,” culminating with both Bigland and the whirling dervish bass player leaping into the photo pit and onto the barrier before leaving instruments strewn all over the stage.
These are a brilliant live band and I’m seriously considering heading North and Eastwards at the end of April to “Live at Leeds” to catch them on home territory, as I’ve a feeling that could be a very special gig.
Review by Andy