Live Review: Defeater, Caspian, More Than Life and Goodtime Boys – Sound Control, Manchester – 22/01/2014

imageThe key to a great live performance doesn’t always involve a rapturous crowd reaction. The key ingredients in fact involve presence and entertainment, which impacts in grand proportions. Welsh post hardcore troupe Goodtime Boys will have the world at their feet based on this performance. Older songs like ‘Breathe’ and ‘Callous’ display such grace and cathartic shine, it’s hard not to mesmerise yourself in it. On the other hand, it is the new material from upcoming debut album ‘Rain’ which sticks out here. All the grace and poetic catharsis has evolved into a secular, anthemic epitaph. The phrase “music to my ears” couldn’t be more applicable here. ‘Life Moves’ (which is now available for streaming) is a good example of this. All in all, this writer can safely say the impression made by Goodtime Boys has engulfed the idle audience. (4/5)

Whilst the latter impress with performance, much loved hardcore quintet More Than Life are memorable with the reception they receive. At the start they seem to awkwardly stumble somewhat with their own delivery, but over time a balanced rhythm is firmly established. The obsessive compulsive fans are a reason for this eventual balance; the band takes such energy, and recycles it to their own liking. More Than Life’s songwriting has a huge quality to them, which is another saving grace for them from a rocky start. ‘Fear’ and ‘Love Let Me Go’ are good examples of the picture painted here. Raw screams revel around an ambient punk soundscape, to a well-received applause. New songs from their upcoming self-titled effort, such as the recently released ‘Do You Remember…’ show the band veering further away from familiar ground. Such change could spell doom from a fan’s perspective, but it is welcomed delightfully. (3.5/5)

Second to last bunch on the bill, Caspian, is a left field choice for support. Most of the crowd are probably used to shorter songs, but the Boston post rock juggernaut wells up the room with tremendous aplomb. Metallic soundscapes crash then fold over ambient auras. It’s beautiful to hear, feel and touch. It may take a bit of patience to be used to, yet it all pays off so well at the end of it all. (4/5)

Opening straight into ‘Bastards’, Defeater strive for solidarity and passion in tonight’s set. The Boston hardcore poets have a tank full of energy; ‘Dear Father’ and ‘The Red, White and Blues’ kick up a raw strut in their stride. Frontman Derek Archambault spits out and yells in the best way possible, despite a dodgy hip. In fact, this could be the reason for the crowd’s wariness at first, but their eagerness is unlocked through mosh and shouts by the band’s encouragement. It should be noted this writer wasn’t massively hooked by Defeater’s latest output, but the recent material does come into its own in a live setting. The clickety clack hinged ‘Rabbit Foot’ shifts comfortably into early cuts like the vice tightening ‘A Wound and Scar’. For all the heaviness on the first half, midway comes the rich acoustics of ‘I Don’t Mind’ and the full band country twang provided by ‘But Breathing’. It shows the band being flexible in mood accordingly to their choice of song. Defeater overall are strong in their delivery of their output, yet there appears to be something missing. Sure, they bow out with a tense end on ‘Bled Out’, yet it feels less in what could be more. Perhaps it is this writer’s view of the latest material, but as stated such songs sound tighter live. Or maybe it’s the lack of encore. Yet as previously pointed out, Archambault has given his all in spite of his current handicap plus the venue has an early curfew tonight. Regardless, the nit picking is miniscule to how very good the set was tonight. Not great, but a satisfying evening nonetheless. (3.5/5)

3.5/5

Words by Aaron Lohan (@ooran_loohan)

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