Friday 7 October 2022

Life / Pleasure Centre - Manchester Deaf Institute - 6th October 2022

Life brought their tour for their third album North East Coastal Town to the Deaf Institute on Thursday night, mixing most of the album with a few select older favourites from their first two albums in a passionate exciting performance. Support came from Pleasure Centre.

Describing themselves as "sad walls of noise" is a great summation of Pleasure Centre. The four-piece interchange vocalists which gives them a real variety in their take of a modern shoegaze, heavy hazy guitar, tight rhythmic drum patterns and their leader Aneela has a strong visual as well as vocal presence, whether it be when down in the crowd or stood with back to audience arms held out horizontally. Stand out tracks are their single Talkboy that finishes the set and a new one that Aneela tells us "we wrote last night", but once they've overcome some sound issues in the first song, their half-hour including tracks from their debut EP Weight Of It All is an impressive introduction, delighting their fans down the front and winning over the more curious onlookers stood further back who move forward as the set goes on.

Life are "the best punk band in the world" according to Aneela and over the course of just under an hour they set about trying to live up to that lofty tag. What's so brilliant about Life, three albums in, is that they've resisted the urge to just repeat the same old formula over and over again unlike some of their more celebrated contemporaries. There's influences aplenty oozing out of these songs from various touchpoints, but what they do so cleverly is to fuse them together into something distinctive that stands out in a market that's overflowing with the seemingly timeless post-punk revival that has been ongoing for a decade at least by our latest reckoning.

Mez is a thrilling front man, from his often awkward but unique dance style, vocal intonation and between song chat all combining to make him the focal point, whether he be up on stage, prowling the bar area or amongst the crowd at one point. Like many great bands though, Life are much more than one person at the front - bassist Lydia is lost in the music, also heading to the bar at one stage, and forming half of a rhythm section with Stewart that propels the first thirteen of the fourteen songs long at breakneck speed and with a momentum that draws an initially reticent audience in to the point by the end there's no escape on the floor from the moshpit. Last, but by no means least, Mez's brother Mick completes the four-piece with huge riffs that expand the form of these songs.

Nine of the fourteen songs come from their new album North East Coastal Town with four from its predecessor A Picture Of Good Health and only the title track from their debut Popular Music. Whilst the audience save their wildest moshpit for Bum Hour from A Picture Of Good Health, you'd otherwise be unable to split the records without prior knowledge, such is both the intensity of North East Coastal Town and the audience's openness to the new music rather than just wanting to hear the early stuff that got them into the band in the first place. That's testament to the intrinsic quality of these songs and the powerful raw visceral simplicity of the delivery. There's no big show, just great songs being performed by a great band.

They finish with Stewart out from behind the kit on a second guitar for Duck Egg Blue, a comedown from what's gone before, the calm to Moral Fibre and Bum Hour's unstoppable force of momentum or the tsunami of Shipping Forecast's build back from its mid-song breakdown. They leave nothing behind on stage as they depart, although Mez resists taking off his inappropriately warm jacket, there's no calls for the fakeness of an encore because it would go against everything Life stand for. 

Life played Big Moon Lake, Hollow Thing, Excites Me, Incomplete, Almost Home, Moral Fibre, Our Love, The Drug, Shipping Forecast, Popular Music, Self Portrait, Bum Hour, Friends Without Names and Duck Egg Blue.

They play Nottingham Bodega (October 8), Bristol Fleece (10), Brighton Patterns (11), London Scala (12), Southampton Joiners (14), Nijmegen Merleyn (26), Rotterdam Rotown (27), Utrecht ACU (28) and Amsterdam London Calling (29).

Their official site can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Pleasure Centre are on Facebook and Twitter.


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