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What could be better just four days from Christmas, a trip into Manchester to complete the necessary shopping within a relatively quiet city centre, before heading to Moho Live for an evening of rock and metal.  My first visit to the subterranean lair, uncovers everything an alternative rock venue should provide, intimate, dark and murky atmosphere, plenty of bar space and a good sized stage. The scene is set for a hot, sweaty few hours of bulldozing music. There is more than an element of déjà vu about the line-up tonight, which requires explanation.  All three bands incorporate the mercurial lead guitar talents of Daniel Mucs, a couple of swift t-shirt and instrument changes before moving seamlessly from quartet to trio to quintet respectively. Drummer Toby from Ten Foot Wizard also providing rhythms in Dirty Habit and vocalist / guitarist Gary Harken also of Ten Foot Wizard doubles as the screaming lunatic singer within Wolfcrusher. Confused…….probably, but let’s move on. 

Harken announces Ten Foot Wizard are playing only their second gig of the year, although you’d be hard pressed to tell.  Theirs a sound based around Southern Blues rock which impressive facial hair and brilliantly strong gruff vocals only serve to enhance, discharging a set including “Pyramid,” “Real Love,” “Fuck”(basically an instrumental with an early cry of……… “fuck”) and the almost as subtly titled closing track “Vulture Bitches.” Ten Foot Wizard play it raucously hard and heavy, big riffs and big voice, a perfect way to open the gig, a pity the early stage time doesn’t allow for a more generous crowd, although everyone present is treated to an absolute stalwart performance.  Here’s hoping 2012 brings numerous outings from these guys.

Not much in the way of kit re-arrangement required before Dirty Habit fill the void left by the departure of Ten Foot Wizard, Daniel and Toby joined on bass and vocals by the visually resplendent Jo.  While the three piece inhabit slightly similar territory, an additional sleaze rock element pervades, Jo’s slightly more punkish tones and look creating both an optical and aural contrast. Mucs keeps cranking out the riffs as tracks from debut album “Mental Execution” are mixed with new material suggesting a new record from Dirty Habit may hopefully appear in the New Year.   

Although four bands are on the bill tonight, Daywalkers closing the show, my headliners due to other commitments are Wolfcrusher.  Album Virgin Tapestry made my top ten of the year, the amalgamation of classic rock and metal, proving one of the most powerful and inspiring collections of 2011.  With the festive period so close and tonight’s gig their last before 2012, a real party hard atmosphere saturates Moho, the strains of their most brutal track “Moving Mountains” literally bludgeoning the eardrums into submission.  Bassist Chris Mitchell – Taylor set’s the festive scene, festooned in Father Christmas suit, although this no Santa your children would welcome, nightmares recurring for all remaining years of belief, as the four string monolith appeared down their chimney.  Gary Harkin further suggests he’s entered the spirit of the evening through the imbibing of liquid refreshment backstage and numerous bottles of lager are readily to hand throughout.  He still produces one of the most intense and thoroughly intoxicating performances of any frontman I’ve ever witnessed, the sheer passion, vigour and dynamism completely startling as he shifts fluently between clean vocal tones and frenzied screams and growls.

The set incorporates the vast majority of “Virgin Tapestry” with the added addition of “Focus.” The highlight an immense version of “No Chance” Daniel Mucs guitar skills to the fore during a searing solo, prior to the climax of “Skeletonizer” bringing an incredible performance to an end.  Wolfcrusher another from Manchester’s current metal scene stirring an interest within the extreme music press, a band who’s profile deserves to rise ever higher over the next twelve months. 

Set list

Moving Mountains
Lost at Sea
No Chance