MenaceBeach 1

Menace Beach


Menace Beach have the unconstrained fervour of a rock ‘n’ roll band that encounter newfound adulation in every sweaty pub venue in every town they roll into. Tonight marks exactly a week since their excellent debut album Ratworld was unleashed upon the world, and as given away when frontman Ryan Needham tentatively asks whether anyone in attendance bought it, they’re clearly still coming to terms with the situation. ‘Cool, thanks’, he replies with buoyant modesty.

Perhaps it’s a result of standing inches from the bass drum, but the animalistic, primal nucleus that rhythm section Nestor Matthews (drums) and Matt Spalding (bass) comprise is the key to the band’s ferocious energy. Nearly every one of the 13 song, 35 minute setlist clocks in at under 3mins, with breathers and breaks at a strict premium. The triple guitar attack of Needham, Liza Violet and Hookworms’ Matthew ‘MJ’ Johnson (who also produced the album) handles raw expression and tuneful melody just the same. Soon enough their shows will have grander settings, and how they adapt to transferring their energy to the larger crowds will dictate their future success.

For now, they are in their element. Opener ‘Teenage Jesus’ sets the intensity level high, and a lethal one-two punch of Ratworld highlights ‘Drop Outs’ and ‘Elastic’ has the back room of the Northern Quarter’s iconic Castle Hotel rippling. The band’s biggest song to date, ‘Tastes like Medicine’ (a recent BBC 6Music favourite) strikes an extra chord of recognition amongst the crowd, whilst the slightly more tender ‘Tennis Court’ (these things are relative) offers some counterpoint to the tireless zest of the night so far. Album opener ‘Come On Give Up’ and album closer ‘Fortune Teller’ ride the crest of the wave, before ‘Lowtalkin’ delivers one final 90 second blast of lean, headbanging catharsis.

It’s as predictable as it is accurate to namecheck fuzzy, slacker 90s alt-rock forebears like Pavement, The Breeders and Guided By Voices – heck, Violet is even sporting a Sonic Youth t-shirt tonight – and their more contemporary derivatives like Yuck and Joanna Gruesome, but in the moment of thrall in which this band holds you, none of that matters. The formula may not be their invention, but its execution remains genuinely exciting, and in the hands of a band of this accomplishment, the legacy will continue to live on. Menace Beach will, for a certain sector of the music-loving public, make one of 2015’s most treasured albums, and for many in attendance tonight, they’ve made an early run for one of 2015’s best gigs.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.