Sunday, 9 December 2018

Music Is A Weapon: MCR "Punks For West Papua" - Alphabet Brewing Company, Manchester - Saturday 2nd December - Live Review

This is a late review due to me being busy being ill with a damn virus I'm only just shaking off. And it needs to be out there.....

MCR Punks For West Papua : MFU (Modern Family Unit), Witch Fever, Membranes and The Blinders.

Some gigs are held for good reasons and this was one them. Punks For West Papua if you don't already know originated in 2016 when Jody Bartolo from Australian punk band decided to make people aware of the persecution of the landowners in West Papua who are being slaughtered by greedy source extractors for their own monetary gains. This gig celebrates the launch of the Manchester chapter co-founded by Gary Hilton of Gas Music. It's all about making people aware of the mass slaughter going on which is hidden from the media and to make us all take some kind of action to stop it. Tiny steps and all that.

To the music then.

This is the first gig I've been to in an actual brewery and it's quite surreal. The stage has a backdrop of canned beers and distillery equipment. They are actually serving beer from a bar to the right of me and I get right into the Hoi Polloi lager. First band up are MFU. They are gripping from the start with their power pop punk mix of political tunes, taking the piss out of Trump, and clever lyrics delivered by the enigmatic Gary Hilton. There's a big Talking Heads vibe going in there, tinged with shades of New Order. There's a bit of Krautrock twiddling thrown into the mix which gives them a sinister edge to what could be bangers in the future.Steve and Andy provide the rhythm to good effect and the tunes hold my interest for the full set. Interesting stuff.

Witch Fever are glorious punk grunge I've not witnessed for years. Amy is a tiny figure in person but comes across like a giant with her vocals. They sound like a well oiled crunching engine with that rock power that harks back to L7. I would say Hole or Babes In Toyland but that's cliche and what most blokes would write about girls in bands. I say L7 as I reckon some of their songs could be big enough to hit that stage. They air a track with the chant 'off with his head' and I get a bit scared. This is grunge at it's best and we WILL hear a lot from these four firebrands.

For those who don't know, Membranes are John Robb, Nick Brown, Peter Byrchmore and Rob Haynes. When they were first around they played disjointed raw punk songs that stood out from the norm and reached cult status. Things are about to change. This new direction has that similar sound, however there is a prog element going on with that tribal sound. They kick off the set with the usual The Universe Explodes, John prowling on stage like a man possessed with that wild stare that could make John Lydon back down in a staring competition. A great tune which sets the tone for the explosion of Do The Supernova which has me and Emily Oldfield dancing (well sort of!) like maniacs. The band have that power to keep you hooked especially when they air In The Graveyard. I'm waiting for their new album with anticipation....

I've seen The Blinders live about nine times now, and they just get better and better. It's getting hard to write about them now as I've said it all but I can only try! The opener of Gotta Get Through just drags you by the hair as Tom is compelling as ever. That dirty swamp rock sound makes them stand apart from the rest and you can understand why us folks at Louder Than War voted them 2nd best album of the year. They play most of that album tonight and it's stunning as ever. Charlie is suited and booted, and as I've said before he commands that bass with his Nick Cave-ish stage presence, especially during I Can't Breath Blues. Matt completes the picture with his drumming skills and it's great the way he makes them sound disjointed on purpose to mess with your head as on L'Etat C'Est Moi. They even give us an airing of Orbit (Salmon Of Alaska) to end the show which is a first for the lads. Another great set from the Doncaster lads who have been embraced by the Manchester music scene. You won't see them in a venue this size any time soon. Or will you.......

 A big thank you to Georgina Robinson and Jo Lowes for providing a top night and bringing together lots of like minded people. Everyone worked hard to make this a belter to remember.

Photo credits: Neil Winward Photgraphy. Copyrighted.

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