A warm Wednesday evening in Manchester.
The Wetherspoons at Piccadilly is full of interesting people. Standing at the bar with a pint of Abbot Ale, waiting for SD to arrive on the bus from Stockport, you can watch the hustle and bustle of the city commuters. We are off to see Oh Sees at Manchester Academy.
We had planned to go to Bundobast for one their excellent meals but there is a 35 minute waiting time so we hop a cab to Portland Street and indulge in some tasty Caribbean food instead, a bottle of Shiraz helps the mushroom and goats cheese burger go down. Another cab down to the Academy ,which is busy with gig goers, we score a couple of tickets from an affable tout who advises us it’s £4 cheaper than on the door. The band aren’t on until 9:30 and we don’t like the sound of the support so we wander over to a busy Kro-Bar for some Erdingers and chat about all things music as we sit on the stone wall outside. It’s years since i’ve been down to this end of town but it has not changed much, busy with students and somehow detached from the rest of the city, an academic bubble perhaps.
Start time approaches and we amble over to the Academy. Security searches are de rigeur these days, better to be safe than sorry. The place is packed and our timing is perfect as the band are just starting. We make our way to the bar as Dwyer and co launch into their trademark garage rock riffing. I am at stage right and the sound is weighted towards bass and the twin drums. Dwyers vocals and guitar are a little indistinct in the mix but it doesn’t matter that much in the overall scheme of things.
The latest line-up of (Thee) Oh Sees is probably their most potent to date. The two drum attack adds a massive boost to the bands sound, and with Tim Hellman’s sturdy bass playing Dwyer has the space to deliver a stellar performance. I’d familiarized myself with the bands sound that afternoon by listening to the recent live album. From the first song onwards the band transform the music heard on that album into another place entirely. What follows is close to an hour of dense riffage and percussive garage punk of the highest order. Dwyer wears his guitar at chest level which looks odd in the context of the usual rock and roll tropes but which allows him to deliver some interesting moves and axe acrobatics. Towards the end of the gig the band are joined by a third drummer creating an immense wall of sound which has the crowd enthralled.
I’m not normally a fan of big room gigs, and the Academy is usually just that little too large for my tastes, however in this instance the band manage to deliver a club like atmosphere. A highly enjoyable evening and a very rewarding musical experience.