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It’s easy to forget how blessed we are in Manchester because on any given evening there’s a relentless tide of bands washing through the city’s bars and clubs. In some places however, finding somewhere to perform and an audience willing to make the effort to come and see you play is a lot more problematical.  The Great Wilderness, a rock group based in Costa Rica, have found a novel solution to this dilemma by hatching an audacious plot that’s seen them embark on a self-financed tour so they can play their music in London, Paris, Berlin, as well as a date at the Night and Day Café in Manchester.

Composed of four young women - Paola Rogue (vocals, guitars), Jimena Torres (guitars, backing vocals), Monserrat Vargas (bass) and Andrea San Gil (drums) - The Great Wilderness wears its influences firmly and proudly on its sleeves and once your ears have become accustomed to the darkness of their sound you can pick out touches of The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division. But still, if you listen even closer you’ll hear the crackling sparks of an emerging originality in the band’s music. Latest single, the brooding ‘Dark Horse’ shows a marked progression and tonight brings the bands set to a glorious conclusion.  

The band looks incredibly comfortable up there on the small Night and Day stage and there’s plenty of movement to accompany the different shades the girls entice from their instruments. It’s a measured and well-paced performance. Both Rogue’s and Torres’s guitars coil tightly around each other, leaving Vargas’s inventive basslines and San Gils powerhouse drumming to anchor the rhythm. It doesn’t always work, but when the girls get it right, they create a drive and tension in the music that’s positively exciting      

Watching a band like The Great Wilderness suddenly brings home the distances music is able to travel and the people it can touch. Take Joy Division for example, it would be extremely difficult to identify any group that was more securely tethered to a certain time and place, and you wonder how people can ‘get it’ when they don’t have any experience of the environment in which the band’s music was forged. But, you should never underestimate the powerful centrifugal force that music generates, allowing it to spin its messages to the most unlikely places.  And it’s one of the wonders of music that eventually it penetrates and infiltrates everywhere, speaking a universal language that communicates as much meaning to those dancing in the epicentre as it does to those stood watching from the furthest edges.

But it’s genuinely humbling to watch a group like The Great Wilderness take a massive leap into the unknown, for no other reason than they want to be heard. Groups like The Great Wilderness deserve your time and effort because, if nothing else, they really do embody the true spirit of music.

You can download all The Great Wilderness’ recorded output free from:

Review/photos by Phil King

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