If you gave gigs human traits, the recent session with Trampolene, Dead Freights and El Rey at the Deaf Institute in Manchester could only be described as loving, attentive and cuddly. It wasn’t my first gig back, but my first standing and what a way to return.
First a mention of the Deaf Institute; during the dark days it had announced its closure. How special then to find it reborn like a phoenix from the ashes. I adore this place, even if the beer taps upstairs ran off early doors. I was willing to forgive them.
So to open, the debut gig from El Rey in another life lead singer of King Kartel, so no stranger to the boards and spot lights. However, doing it solo is different and El Rey professed to more than a few nerves and a little early on, his fluffed music loop broke the ice with some good natured laughs. The room was bursting with good will and affection, and El Rey’s journey from Ireland was well worth it.
El Rey did a cheeky little Trampolene cover, and it wasn’t long before lead man Jack Jones bounded out on stage to give his support.
The rest of the El Rey set was just good quality rocking, a really solid, likable, and bang on target performance. There’s plenty to build on here and the King is set to return to the top of the order before too long.
Meanwhile our Jack was in the corner of the room quietly hugging and having selfies with a series of folk; every bit as open and warm as his social media profile suggests.
The success of the first set clearly buoyed El Rey and he was seen on the shoulders of a mate in the crowd with a huge grin on his face for a fair bit of the night.
The second band Dead Freights from Southampton was an unknown quality to me, and quality was definitely how it turned out.
To my ear there were tinges of art rock in the set, tinges of post punk and lashes of banging early new wave (think of The Clash or The Jam but brought up to date). This meant those flights of fancy within the tunes remained securely grounded as Dead Freights melded the best of a rockers instinct with that sprinkle of intrigue. Dead Freights just wanted to show us a great time, what they were about, and they achieved it with an acre of space to spare.
I loved the tightness between the 3 guitars and the drums; this is a band that can turn the tempo of a song on a sixpence. I’m never one to miss the opportunity to mix a metaphor. But songs like Batman set Dead Freights above the standard, and it’s not going to be long before this band regularly headline the bigger venues.
Make of this what you will but my hurried phone notes written during the set read as follows:
Experimental Bowie, a band of high order, quality, The Cure are in there, ooh Kid Kapachi, Hendrix.
At this point in the evening I could gone to bed replete and nourished on great sounds, but of course Trampolene were to come. Yes, Trampaf’kingline to give the band their full Sunday name.
I think there are those who could worship Jack, Wayne and Jay and after this performance I can see why. The threesome are just magic on stage.
Of course it is Jack who has most eyes on him, but Wayne and Jay play their part, be it beavering away with the beats, or playing their part on the stage antics; the ‘freeze’ scene as they let the audience pick up the strain of the song is pure.
At one point in the set Jack reminded us it had been 2 years since their last live gig, and the enormity of that sank in. no wonder there was nothing but sheer delight to be back.
Of course with Trampolene you get a whole mix bag of mashings with the music, from poem, to reflective ballad, to out and out ballsy rocker. There was a heavy emphasis on the latest EP, and that delighted me, as the Shoot the Lights EP is pretty perfect and I’m more than excited for the new album early next month.
When Jack asked if there was any substances in the audience that he needed to confiscate, then you just knew that special homage to Ketamine was coming. I’m not the first to say it, but Jack’s poetry and prose is outstanding. Ket isn’t my generation (we had even muckier pleasures), but the intensity of the poem cuts through to the quick. Of course, all credit to Jack that he is clean now.
Alcohol Kiss was of course always going to be a highlight of the night. I was stood near the poor bouncer charged with keeping everyone safe; he was about to rescue a crowd surfing lad at risk of being pile-drived off shoulders, when Jack launched into the fray. Pandamonium and a lost trainer ensued, but fortunately no spilt brains on the dance floor (well I was worried; I had my suede Clarks Originals on). Another class moment was Jack larking around in the mosh with an umbrella (and giving the hard working bouncer another panic attack) during the magnificence of Pound Land.
That was one sweaty night, and not only for the bouncer.
* Footnote: Thank you Jane for correcting my spelling of Trampolene – they used the same spelling as Julian Cope’s song of the same name. My dyslexia didn’t even spot that. Word subtly is lost on me. Haha.