Friday 6 October 2023

Dream Wife / Prima Queen / Ash Kenazi - Manchester Canvas - 5th October 2023

Dream Wife opened their UK and Ireland tour in support of their recent third album Social Lubrication in a packed Canvas basement on Thursday night. Celebrating the diversity of their crowd with a message of community and a fuck you to those who seek to discriminate, they stormed through an energetic set that got the crowd moving from the off. Support came from the depleted but nevertheless impressive Prima Queen and Ash Kenazi.

Ash Kenazi starts the set dressed in a colourful robe and huge wig; half way through stands behind the bar at the back with a basque revealing a bare chest and just pants and finishing wearing a Stop Being Straight t-shirt. Vocally moving from high-pitched operatic drama to a more rough and ready vocal style, singing about love and its trials and tribulations, encouraging audience participation throughout, Ash charms an initially reticent audience into submission and has them chanting for an encore at the end of the set as the discarded items of clothing are collected up. Fascinating, unique and captivating, Ash was a perfect opener for the evening.

Prima Queen and Manchester don't have much luck. They had to pull out of Psych Fest in September at the last minute, Yes has stopped doing their favourite pink mayo that goes with their pizza and tonight they're drummer-less. The stripped-down trio approach, although in parts it's far from stripped-down, works perfectly, giving the interplay between Kristin and Louise's distinctly different vocals, in moments in call and response, in others layered with an occasional third vocal from their bassist Kitty. 

They win over the audience with songs like early single Eclipse, tracks from their debut EP Not The Baby (including single Dylan where Louise asks if there's anyone in the audience with that name) and the unreleased Milky Tea. The audience clap along at points despite Kristin's good-natured warning that previous audiences have not done it very well. It's a very strong set and one that will have won them a new set of admirers from a crowd that refreshingly shut up and listened.

It's a sense of community that Dream Wife have created over the course of the past six years or so. Canvas is packed by the time they come on. The original venue of New Century Hall might have been ambitious given the pressures on bands operating at this level being squeezed by cost of living and the pricing of arena level bands, but it's in these intimate spaces where Dream Wife really come into their own. Five hundred or so people are utterly transfixed them - by Rakel's boundless energy and smile, Alice and Bella's prowling of the stage, their "battle of the axes" during Sports and the sheer sense of fun they manage to align with their powerful message of solidarity. 

When Rakel declares that Somebody is for all the bad bitches, she tells us that the requirement to be a bad bitch is solely to support the other bad bitches and that trans friends should not be separated, segregated or treated any differently to anyone else, whatever the bigots that were a mile up the road earlier in the week might think. There's a dedication to a lost friend after which Bella softly reassures Rakel and five hundred hearts melt. And whilst their message is unequivocal, it also has a sense of playfulness in the delivery in moments, particularly on Hot (Don't Date A Musician) and their cover of Tau's All The Things She Said.

The new songs from Social Lubrication slide in perfectly alongside the old favourites like Hey Heartbreaker and their glorious finale FUU. The crowd move as one, whether it's the young women who Rakel beckons down to the front or the older guys further back. There's a mosh pit and circle, but it's one that's respectful of each other's boundaries. People scream the lyrics back at them, lose themselves in the moments where Dream Wife let loose musically and there's a real sense of joy, communion and cohesion in the room as evidenced when Prima Queen and Ash join them for the end. 

Dream Wife are a wonderful band, formed as a semi-serious art project in their home town of Brighton, who've blossomed into one of the most powerful and potent live forces out there with a message that they'll kick down the doors to get heard of unity and a plea for a world where there's no them and us and delivered with a sense of joy that leaves everyone feeling there's hope for humanity.

Dream Wife's official website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.

Prima Queen are on Facebook and Twitter.

Ash Kenazi is on Twitter

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