One of the brightest, shiniest venues in Manchester opened its doors a little over twelve months ago and a stellar lineup of the best leftfield music going has been curated in celebration of The New Century Hall’s first birthday.
Miss Tiny opens the proceedings, consisting of super-producer Dan Carey and Warmduscher’s Benjamin Romans-Hopcraft acting as vocalist/drummer. The duo (plus a bassist) treats the crowd to a selection of their unreleased cuts, which borrow from every aspect of Carey’s label Speedy Wunderground.
Avant-jazz and funky time signatures, reminiscent of Black Midi and Squid are a real treat, especially when performed directly from Carey’s guitar. The pair have a fantastic working relationship, having played together in a studio environment for years, and this dynamic gives Miss Tiny a superbly rounded and polished sound – they’re a force to be reckoned with in a live arena.
Divorce take to the huge stage next, with intermittent LED ceiling lights punctuating the gap between artists. Despite drafting a stand-in drummer (their regular drumsman Kasper Sandstrom is on tour with his other band, Do Nothing), the band do not mess around. They launch right into ‘Services‘, a popular cut from their debut EP, Get Mean.
Tiger Cohen-Towell is without her usual blonde bob wig, this time letting her natural jet-black shaggy mullet free while she perfroms. The death of an on-stage character, perhaps? Whatever the case, the band utterly smash it – their earlier tunes blend seamlessly with the new stuff, with ‘Birds’ being a fantastic highlight. Divorce are a band with a huge upwards trajectory, they just keep getting better and better: an utter joy to behold in the sparkling arena.
Next up are locals The Lounge Society, hailing from different parts of Greater Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire. With one Speedy Wunderground-released album under their belts already, the band feel every part honed and ready for something huge.
They are loud and brash, yet precise and considered. Huge, moody bass parts and post-punk guitar are every bit Joy Division-inspired, as frontman Herbie May deviates from screaming to speaking his parts into the mic. They are the archetypal “band” too, impossibly skinny and cool, they look like a playground gang of misfits lumped together to make brilliantly moody tunes.
Full and reaching a fever pitch, the New Century Hall is ready to accept their funky heroes as Warmduscher finally grace the stage. Clad in black boiler suits and mirrored shades, WD kick off an immense show with ‘Tainted Lunch’, before launching into track after track. ‘Midnight Dipper’ is an early highlight, and has the crowd pogoing to the extreme early doors.
As the night goes on, the crowd gets more and more into the groove, and before long the whole room is dancing and throwing themselves around the hall. ‘Twitchin’ in the Kitchen’ is a massive moment, and the funky, sleazy punk tune blows the LED-laden roof off the gaff. It’s loud and grimey from the get-go, and WD’s show descends into perfect debauchery.
‘Disco Peanuts’ and ‘Eight Minute Machine’ is a superb double-header, and Warmduscher are seriously flexing their muscles at this point. Sweat is pouring from each member, and the crowd, as the birthday celebrations reach a climax. WD play long into the night, well past midnight by the time they reach the encore to cap a stupendous night of live music.
Four superb leftfield bands showcasing that, not only is British guitar music still alive and kicking, it’s as powerful as ever.