Friday 7 April 2023

The Orielles - Manchester Canvas - 6th April 2023

The Orielles returned to their adopted home of Manchester for a sold out show at Canvas on the penultimate leg of their tour to support their exceptional third album Tableau. Drawing heavily from that record with a few older favourites added for good measure, they delighted a crowd of all ages with an intense hour and a half set.

We'd always liked but not loved The Orielles. We'd first seen them way back in 2013, somewhere around the time they changed their name from The Oreohs, in a room above The Shakespeare pub in Sheffield supporting High Hazels. We'd wondered why they'd let kids in the pub downstairs until they strode out on stage. The Orielles of 2023 still have that youthful look about them but that decade has seen an immeasurable progression of both of their stagecraft, and in particular their sound with the release of one of last year's standout albums Tableau.

The setlist itself is a statement of intent. Eleven of the sixteen songs come from Tableau and before they enter the stage we're shown a movie of a track entitled Tableau 002 which comes from a 12" vinyl they've made whilst recording the album that takes the experimental sound of the record a step further. Bringing a record like Tableau to life is a difficult task, to keep an audience, which let's face since the pandemic seem to have lost their ability to stand and watch without talking, on your side and listening is an even more difficult one. However The Orielles manage both and then some. 

The likes of BEAM/S, The Room and Transmission feel like they have albums worth of ideas layered, not crammed, into them and tonight they're brought into vivid colourful life. And the audience, for the most part, stand and listen. Synths and samples melt into the guitars, bass and drums and create beautifully patterns of sound that draw you in and hold your attention. At times they feel more like musical art installations than your traditional songs, eschewing the verse, chorus, verse, chorus, break, chorus end pattern that most of their contemporaries would die of shock if they had to divert from. Chromo II is dreamy and delicious, Darkened Corners, Drawn And Defined and the spoken verse of Stones push the boundaries of their sound, yet they hit the intended target every time.

Visually they're a contrast, Henry throws himself around the stage, eyes closed, whilst Esme and Emily remains more static as Sid directs proceedings from her drum kit at the back of the stage. It adds to the impact, lost in their own worlds but coming together as one intuitively in the music. Some bands rely on eye and physical contact to connect, a decade in The Orielles don't need that. 

The older songs get a more energetic response from the crowd rather than the respectful one for the new songs. A mosh pit starts up for Space Samba and Sunflower Seeds, stand out tracks from Disco Volador and Silver Dollar Moment, either side of the encore and there's a very vocal singalong to Bobbi's Second World. If there's any discontent at the heavy weighting towards Tableau though it's a murmur.

It's a brave move for a band to turn away from the tried and tested formula that had served them well in the past. Tableau isn't as immediate as its predecessors and has suffered in terms of radio playlisting in the UK as a result, but it's the sound of a band making music for themselves rather than as a product to fit a profile. More in depth listening and hearing it live, it reveals more and more with each turn. We always thought The Orielles were a good band but Tableau and their change in sound has made them a great one.

The Orielles played Memories Of Miso, Television, BEAM/S, Airtight, Some Day Later, Darkened Corners, Bobbi's Second World, Chromo II, While The Flowers Look, The Room, Drawn And Defined, Stones, Transmission, Space Samba, Sunflower Seeds and Instrument.

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