Loud, dynamic, fearlessly cocksure. The North is back.
Possessive of not just one mere Mancunian act of drastically forward-thinking empowerment and effortless grandeur, but two, the second ever Basement Club heralded exquisite performances from two of the UK's most presently exciting, emerging live-talents. Whilst sharing little in common musically, certainly Oceansize and The Rain Band's collective penchant for creating thunderous compositions of a frightfully epic scale denotes a prosperous 2003 for music. And their contemporaries best take note now rather than after.
With the former of the duo opening proceedings in an expectedly unpredictable manner, surging from their distinctive, three-guitar-blanketing swaths of delicate intricacy through to churning riffage evocative of Tool dueting with RATM on a particularly angry evening, the mood-shifting 'Catalyst' is the first piece to dumbfound and spellbind the attendance.
Relevantly, frontman and guitarist Mike Vennart observes his spectators curiously, remarking wryly on the distinctly attentive ambience, soon exchanging contemplative thoughtfulness to a full-on assault of the senses, with the final, shuddering blast-through of 'Saturday Morning Breakfast Show' enough to awaken any dead and reignite enthusiasm in even the most aged and morose of school-teachers. With additional swirling six-string guidance from Steve Durose and Gambler plus Jon Ellis on bass further notching the volume to near room-defying levels of manically-orchestrated white noise, Mark Herrin on drums controlling the hovering mass to a calculated hurricane, it ends with mic-stands landing in the crowd and instruments discarded... 'Uncompromising'? Why yes - and deservedly so.
A stage change-over is subsequently initiated for the ensuing advancement of The Rain Band, up next, ye olde classics in the calibre of New Order and Stone Roses exerted from the stereo, and the spirit of all the golden, Manc indie-stars of the past flooding back to memory. With a similarly assured entrance by tonight's final act, the foursome burst into the infectious shuffle of 'Island', guitarist Mark - whose birthday it is this evening - rocking gently on the spot, fellow co-hort Richard Nancollis on vocals peering and taunting the crowd with wilful and admirable certainty.
The bass-driven dynamite of a closing 'Into The Light' and a prior, rousing 'Fist Of Fury' not just backs up their graceful style with substance, but also proves that the The Rain Band are capable of showering their groove-based riot down to tight perfection, and uproarious applause. Marching off within an eerie shade of red and black lighting, the second triumph was most affirmatively witnessed in the same venue for the night.
Then allowing ArtRocker's DJ's Paul and Tom loose on the decks resulted in a new rock 'n' roll feast of all things helplessly this year and essential from yesteryear, the likes of The Kills ambushing themselves up against trad.-blues offerings from the greats, and prompting Radio 4's 'Dance To The Underground' to allow some at the back to do just that as depicted in the title. Aww.
1am sees all us stragglers lurching and lurking from positions to be exited from the venue. Friends have been made, serious offers of more, potential killer-acts for the future have been put forward, and some enthralling music has been discovered/witnessed by all. See you in January; let's repeat the experience.
See the 'drownedinsound' viewpoint of the night here