Sunday night saw Surfer Blood bring their Snowdonia tour to Manchester's Soup Kitchen with Dutch band Pip Blom and local heroes Control Of The Going in tow.
There's a real buzz about Control Of The Going at present. In and out of the studio recording their debut album, the growing confidence of the band is visible for everyone to see and hear. From Matt, their reluctant drummer, who's in danger of becoming the star of the show, through Ashley and Ste on guitar, Minesh on keyboards, Tom on bass and the ever more forceful front man Liam, they're starting to make their mark and more than deliver on the latent potential that they'd demonstrated in the past eighteen months.
Songs like Family, a song about the bond in the music community in Manchester set to a racing beat that sets the pulses doing just that, whilst Wild Flower takes us on a lazy hazy trip through their creative brains. Their recent single She feels even more vibrant and exciting, displaying a sonic ambition far beyond so many bands these days that seem to think a three minute banger is all they need. War Crime and the set-closing Star are equally expansive in its ambition, but what's equally impressive is the way the songs still have room to allow each of the six of them to make their mark on them. It's an impressive opening set that throws down the gauntlet to the two touring bands.
Pip Blom pick up that gauntlet and run with it. The Dutch four-piece, named after their lead singer, immediately win over the crowd with a set of furious songs that build in intensity as they proceed before exploding into life in the choruses. They've got a totally infectious energy that transmits itself to the growing crowd as the set progresses that comes from the very heart and core of the songs. Pip's vocals are mightily impressive and expressive, the potent lingering drawl of Hours being a case in point, and despite her nonchalant stance they are delivered with genuine passion and meaning.
Recent single I Think I'm In Love is a real standout track, but there's not a weak one in their nine-song set taken from a mix of their singles to date (of which they're selling a handy compilation at the gigs called Indie Robots) and new songs that go off in different directions, in particular one with a chorus about standing by the telephone that particularly grabs us.. They're apparently coming back to Manchester to play their own headline set in April, and on the basis of tonight they'll have a returning fan base there to welcome them.
Surfer Blood are now four albums in and their set tonight covers most bases of their back catalogue. Whilst their line-up has changed, enforced by the tragic death of guitarist Thomas Fekete last year, their sound on songs from their new album Snowdonia still have the warmth pervading through them that their earlier work did. Songs like Miranda from the 2011 Tarot Classics mini-album and Swim from their 2010 debut Astro Coast sit easily alongside Frozen, Taking Care Of Eddy and Matter Of Time from the new record in the set yet everything retains a freshness because of the strength of the delivery. Lindsey on bass adds her voice as backing vocals to John Paul on some of the songs which puts a different perspective on them.
As the set progress John Paul comes amongst us to make a greater connection, but he hardly needs to because the Sunday night crowd has warmed to them from the start, even when they stop a song mid way through to talk about when they met Peter Hook and John Paul introduces the band. There's an effervescent current running through the whole set, a sense of continuity and cohesion that has the hardcore down the front delighted and which draws in the more curious of us at the side. It all feels very effortless in many ways, but that's the beauty of it, the unpretentious sense of a band performing for the love of what they're doing rather than to sell records.
Control Of The Going are on Facebook, Twitter and Soundcloud.
Pip Blom's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Surfer Blood's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.
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