Oceansize, Vessels & As I Watch You from Afar – Live

Academy 3, Manchester 02/02/2010
By Chris Oliver

Attendance is deservedly good for the first support: As I Watch You From Afar. Use of super-heavy riffs and interesting time signatures is done in a good way, not just for the sake of it, yet they do go all 4/4 and melodic from time to time. The shirtless, beefcake Keanu-Reeves-lookalike drummer has placed his kit front and centre stage, and after half an hour of watching him sweat, gurn and pump away, I feel mildly violated, but the music is good.

Vessels are next and they don’t even bother with vocals, although to my relief, their drummer keeps his clothes on. They show a bit more range than the previous outfit – they don’t quite have the same energy, but offer more in terms of build-up and groove and out-and-out musicianship. Oceansize seem to have done that rarest of things and brought in support acts whose music would not sound out-of-place on one of their own b-sides. Cracking.

There’s little on the rock scene more original and challenging that Oceansize. Think Pink Floyd and the Smashing Pumpkins meet Slayer in an eerie, alien dream-world. Perhaps the most striking thing about tonight’s show is the lighting; in such a small venue, it’s incredibly effective – and combined with their often hypnotic music, it makes for a wonderful, intense experience right from the off. The Manchester 5-piece spend half the concert silhouetted against an alternately red, green and blue smoke-filled stage.

In shirt and jacket, with side-parted hair, singer Mike Vennart looks like he should be casually knocking out indie-rock rather than screaming his lungs out over the first few rows, but seeing him perform is a real eye-opener. He informs us that his other job is giving out fliers on the door at the Students’ Union, and proceeds to give a masterful demonstration of effective time-management by reading out the highlights of the venue’s gig-guide between songs. Unfortunately, the vocals are the main casualty of a slightly swamped and muddy sound, which prevents the band from recreating the superb clarity of their records.

Oceansize are getting more expressive and emotional as they mature but seem to have lost little of the intensity which is one of their defining characteristics. The new songs seem smoother and more patient but much the same as riding a bullet train, they’re still powering along with unrivalled momentum.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: