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An air of intrigue surrounds Manchester trio No Ceremony ///, little information or detail available since self-releasing a number of tracks and videos over the last few months, emphasising visual, rather than band members imagery almost as important as the music. An aspect further enhanced arriving at Salford Sacred Trinity Church’s door, the three forward slashes used behind their name drawn on the back of a hand, a symbol denoting the desire to enter the live experience inner sanctum. Welcome to aural Opus Dei, No Ceremony /// division.

It’s testament to the aura created around the band via the internet, garnering interest from 6 music, Radio 1 and XFM, the turn out on another wet Tuesday evening for only their second gig, and first headlining is exceptionally good.  This also gives support Cloud Boat, an excellent opportunity to impress in front of a good sized, accepted with polite gratitude.  This, the second time I’ve witnessed Sam and Tom, having caught them last year at The Band on the Wall with James Blake, producing an atmospheric, bass heavy sound, perhaps slightly un-reverential within the sacred surroundings, crucifixion images hanging precariously to the wall as dub step detonations threaten the foundations, although the contrasting seated delivery of angelic vocals and mellow, restrained guitar, more suitably fill the pious space. Although the site of buttons being pushed on a Roland SP404 creates little in the way of a live spectacle, this takes nothing away from the impressive reverberation created from the electronic device.

The clandestine nature of No Ceremony /// once more apparent as they appear in the dimly lit chancel, images flashing on a screen behind, the three members, whilst not hiding, certainly happy to lurk within the shadows. 

The intimate and reverential surroundings providing a perfect backdrop for an understated, although thoroughly captivating performance from the trio of Audrey NOC, Kelly NOC  and Jamie NOC.  Lead singer Audrey provides an enchanting and sensuous front woman, lost in music, her plaintive vocals purer than effects laden recorded versions.  There’s little in the way of crowd interactions, instead juxtapositions of instruments and styles proliferate, beats and melodies clash and subvert subtle acoustic and electric guitars, carefully guiding the audience through a set consisting ambient electro and house based dance tracks.  I’m way outside my comfort zone tonight, exposure to electronica at a minimum, although the alluring nature of the headliners proves both refreshing and exhilarating in equal measures.

While certainly not the most qualified person to comment on a No Ceremony /// gig, I can confidently state much to surface in future from the Mancunian triumvirate, my interest completely stimulated, a similar feeling I’d suggest, adopted by the majority of the audience tonight. Music this virtuous will only lead to further exposure, time won’t allow secrets kept for much longer.

Review by Andy Barnes
Photos by Mike Gatiss-

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