The Deaf Institute became a welcome sanctum away from the culture-blind chaos that spilt from most venues on bank holiday Saturday in Manchester with the sublimely curated line-up featuring The Last Clouds, Woman You Stole and Mercury Machine.
The Last Clouds kicked off proceedings with their confessional lyrics, imploring vocals and dark indie electronica stylings that will be familiar with any fans of Covenant, VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk. If any artist can prove there is an intrinsic beauty in vulnerability, it is the Last Clouds. Their recently released single, How to Get Up From This, was all it took to allow my curiosity to transpire into fanatic adoration. The theatrical atmosphere of the single wouldn’t be out of place on the end credits of an apocalyptic blockbuster. Yet, it was the heart-wrenching lyrics, “I tried to speak but it is hard because nobody cares/ I’ll tear the books from my shelf just to lie in the words of somebody else”, that cemented a place on my radar for the criminally underrated act.
If anything can spice up a line-up, it is the je ne sais quoi of Woman You Stole. They set themselves apart by an avant-garde mile with their lively debonair set that easily commanded the crowd into feeling what was orchestrating between them – even if it was fascinatingly unpredictable from one progression to the next.
Their capriciously experimental style is arresting on record, seeing it first-hand is something else entirely. Describing Woman You Stole as entrancing may sound hyperbolic but their sophisticated originality that emanates from their authenticity and mind-blowing talent, rather than through diehard determination to find obscurity, is something everyone should make an effort to witness at least once.
It almost seems needless to rave about Mercury Machine; the band that falls outside of the Manchester post-punk assimilative trap and find themselves in far darker territory, one that made me pretty nostalgic about the soundtrack to Cradle of Fear. The Manchester-based dark indie electronica five piece’s set instantly made it obvious why most of the room were sporting their t-shirts and why why so much hype has amassed around them since the release of their critically-acclaimed debut album in 2019.
Their lyrics are too efficacious in allowing you to explore the fucked up avenues of the human psyche while the pace of frenetic rhythms allow you to find euphoria through defiantly dancing to depictions of our mental precariousness. I couldn’t have asked for a better hit of post-lockdown catharsis.
Bands should always be judged by how much they move you emotionally and how much they can make you move; as Mercury Machine got the first post-lockdown dance from me, I can’t give them much higher praise than that.
Their inhibition-stripping histrionic sound still finds space, occasionally, for Marr-style guitars that add even more energy to their caustic industrial sound could fill stadiums. If goths felt more inclined to leave their bedrooms, that is.
Review by Amelia Vandergast