of-montreal– GORILLA, MANCHESTER –

Entering the room for tonight’s gig at Gorilla I’m struck by how smoky the place is, I think someone has just had an accident with the smoke machine. Thankfully the smoke clears quickly, the room fills up and we get to the time for of Montreal to enter the stage.

Five band members enter dressed all in white, backing vocalist Rebecca Cash embarks on an elaborate introduction of the sixth, introducing frontman Kevin Barnes as, amongst other things, the “king of kings” and the “animal of animals”. Barnes enters with a dark cape covering the top of his own white outfit and the band open the show by playing ‘Triumph Of Disintegration’.

Moving quickly into the next songs, ‘Suffer For Fashion’ from 2007’s Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? is up second and third song of the performance is ‘Fugitive Air’ from latest album Lousy with Sylvianbriar. Having released 12 studio albums in the last 16 years, it’s difficult to keep up with the shear volume of music coming from the band. If like me you have only recently been introduced to their output I’m afraid there are no shortcuts, there are excellent tracks from every era.

After being handed a small tambourine to play along to an upcoming song, Barnes announces “one day we’ll be able to afford a larger tambourine” only to have Cash respond “not any day soon”. The set marches on, “a brand new song about bullfighting” because that’s “very popular nowadays” comes before ‘Raindrop In My Skull’ where Cash takes the lead vocals. The slower pace and female vocals of the track lead to quite a different feel and it adds an extra dimension to the set.

Now that the crowd has been calmed by the slower song, the band break straight into a high energy version of ‘Gronlandic Edit’, raising the excitement in the room to the highest level of the night so far. After Barnes removes his top, causing some disapproving looks to be exchanged between Cash and drummer Clayton Rychlik, he disappears from the stage as the band finish the song. He returns, changed into “something more comfortable” and they play one more track, ‘Heimdalsgate Like A Promethean Curse’ before the whole band leave the stage.

At this point I’m enjoying the performance, little do I know what was still to come. Once again the band appear without Barnes, for him to enter on his own a few moments later. The progressive rock sounding opening chords of ‘The Past is a Grotesque Animal’ start. I’ve not heard the song before, but it is by some distance my favourite of the night. Lasting more than 15 minutes on its own, I’m blown away by it and I don’t think I’m the only one. When the song finally comes to an end the band leave the stage with strobe lights flashing over the audience, lots of people left staring at the empty stage still trying to come to terms with what just happened.

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Adam Smith

Silent Radio Editor-in-chief. Watching excellently crafted live music is one of the great pleasures I get to enjoy. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same. Get in touch if you'd like to do that here.