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Exit Calm-1

After a period of absence from reviewing gigs, this was quite the show to return to as three unbelievable bands, who all could’ve been headliners such is their flair, rocked the hell out of The Ruby Lounge, and none of them were local to Manchester. A prompt start saw Bristol based, ‘The Shimmer Band’ begin proceedings, and we’re immediately thrown head first into their world, a penetrating assault of explosive, fast tempo rock n roll. Songs such as ‘When the Devil Rides’ and ‘Let me Get Low’ pulsate like a ticking time bomb where the guitars are powerful, yet smooth. The drums thump at a shuddering pace, and a tremendous rock vocal has the capacity to bring the thunder down from the heavens above. This upcoming band certainly caught the eye and one can only envisage it won’t be long before their name is known widely amongst rock fans.

The same could be said for the second band that appeared. Youthful and energetic with a raw sound that’s way beyond their years suggest. ‘The Dirty Rivers’ are the latest craze to come from Liverpool, and much like, ‘The Shimmer Band’, their sound depicts the genre of a time gone by, but make no mistake about it, this is fresh and current, delivering high quality classic, rumbling indie music that you just can’t help but admire when witnessing. It’s straight down to business with these guys, no messing about, play the tunes, rock the place, and get the fuck off stage before anyone realises what the fuck just happened!

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Lead singer Mike Ellis carries enormous confidence, and has a vocal reminiscent of Robert Harvey from ‘The Music’. They look like a tight knit group, a true indie band that has a togetherness, dressing in similar fashion, all black, and all sporting a variety of rock haircuts! This is another band with great potential, especially with catchy songs that hook you immediately like, ‘The Kid’, their only single to date, which growls along into what could surely be a classic indie anthem someday! If this show is anything to go by then the album will be a must buy for all indie/rock fans upon its release.

If the crowd numbers were impressive for the support acts, then they were about to double for the main act as the anticipation grew for Barnsley based psychedelic rockers, ‘Exit Calm’. They took to the stage to a great ovation, depicting the swagger and confidence of a classic indie band, donning leather jackets and parkas (Although as lead singer, Nick Smith, swiftly points out in a tongue in cheek manner, the parka had to initially be worn to hide the fact his fly kept coming down, not because he was a Manc wannabe!)

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They opened with ‘Hearts and Minds’, a haunting, mind bending psychedelic track that has a great mystery embedded in the flow! There is a calm poise about lead singer, Nicky Smith’s stance as the song tumbles along, yet there’s a fiery, devilish focus in his eyes that explodes vocally to reveal the mystery as the chorus steps up to a sharper edge. The psychedelia follows in abundance with several hits off the new album, such as the equally impressive, ‘The Rapture’, where the guitar is sublime, fluent yet edgy, providing the distinctive sound that’s becoming instantly recognisable as an ‘Exit Calm’ track.

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There’s an almost sinister, spaced out feel to both bass and lead guitars at times, possessing that wonderful, prolonged echo and feedback that adds an overwhelming different dimension. Add to that a loud and distinguished drum beat and the result is something pretty special. It’s almost early ‘Verve’ like with an old ‘factory’ like atmosphere rippling underneath. The crowd were in buoyant mood, cutting loose, bouncing around when more notable tracks from the first album were played, such as, ‘We’re on our Own’ and the two encore tracks, ‘You’ve Got it All Wrong’  and ‘Recovery’, displaying the sort of affection that makes you realise this band have had an avid following for years. Live, ‘Exit Calm’ are thunderously loud! So loud in fact that my ear drums still appear to be perforated!

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With the new album, ‘The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be’, released on 23rd September, it wasn’t surprising that half the set consisted of tracks off that, which appears to be a solid range of alternative, psychedelic rock that follows the highly regarded first album very well. To listen to the album alone can be a somewhat tranquil, trippy, euphoric experience that dips in and out of the dark subconscious. To listen live, proves to be a monstrously hedonistic barrage of psychedelic rock that screams through the ears and pierces through the soul. This is a live show that’ll take you to the depths of the universe and back!

Set List
Hearts & Minds
The Rapture
Higher Learning
Holy War
Open Your Sky
We’re On Our Own
You've Got It All Wrong
Review by Nigel Cartner
Photos by Matt Johnston

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