LIVE REVIEW: Fight Like Apes 05/05/2011

6 05 2011

Night & Day Cafe, Manchester Review by Ian Burke

Sombre and introspective, Man Made cuts a lonely figure on the Night & Day’s stage. The nameless troubadour radiates his glumness through the venue like a black hole gobbles light, chopping away at his guitar from the elbow and mercilessly zapping any remnants of joy from the room.

Despite making Leonard Cohen sound like a triple rollover lottery winner, his despairing ditties are just about listenable, but he does his damnedest to make them as inaccessible as possible, making absolutely no concessions to the notion of entertainment or the other people in the room.

He’s an odd choice of support, alright, the juxtaposition between the lonesome, bobble-hatted songsmith and tonight’s effervescent headliners couldn’t be any more pronounced, but who would be the right crowd? Other than locking himself away and playing through his woes to the mirror, you’d be hard-pressed to suggest a sensible answer.

Fight Like Apes are a big deal across the Irish sea. Not in the U2 sense, you understand, but it was only Katy Perry and Eminem which kept the squally Dubliners’ 2nd album, ‘The Body Of Christ And The Legs Of Tina Turner’ from the top of the charts last summer.
The adulation hasn’t been quite so universal in the UK, but a respectable turnout heaves forward to greet the quartet, and by the time opener, ‘Do You Karate?’ judders to a halt, the compressed bodies at the front have created their own mini weather system, the heat enough to cause even the stiffest of quiffs to droop into a Misfits formation, while a foul power shower of sweat cascades onto the faithful from above.

Frontwoman, MayKay, with her ruddy-this, flippin’-that and cunting-the-other doesn’t have a potty mouth, she got a mouth like a filthy Elizabethan back street with syphilitic hookers dodging the flying contents of chamber pots and demented rats off their tits on plague. Her right-hand man, Pockets, is in a permanent hunch over his keyboard, all but guaranteeing a lifetime of back problems once the rock ‘n’ roll dream eventually dies, but regardless of future chiropractor fees, they make an engaging couple.

There’s clanging of scaffolding during ‘Digifucker’, a souped-up rendition of Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Push It’ which is too silly to threaten to steal the show, and a couple of excursions into the delighted crowd before ‘Battlestations’ inevitably brings the curtain down on an infectious performance.

The night doesn’t end there for me, though, oh no. It’s off up Oldham St to the The Castle, where Metamusic are holding court. With their members now scattered to the four winds (or, more accurately, Newcastle, Durham and Liverpool), the erstwhile local outfit might well be faced with all kinds of logistical conundrums just to practice, but they’re slicker and more mature than before.

True, the sound isn’t at it crispest in the tiny back room tonight, but the seeds of invention have clearly been sown in among the time changes and post-rock leanings. They’re careful and deliberate, everything has its place and is done for a reason, but they’ve also got heart, tonnes of it, and Manchester’s loss is everywhere else’s gain.

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