Henge - live at The Ruby Lounge

Henge – live at The Ruby Lounge


Welcome to Henge. At this gig, you check your measly human earth life at the door. For the uninitiated, this band have come on a longer journey than most to be at the Ruby Lounge tonight – from the State of Mutagia, to be exact. If you’re not 100% clear where that is, for context it’s pretty near the land of Xylanthia.

They’re here with their self-diagnosed ‘Cosmic Dross’ – a type of music just about familiar enough for our inferior minds to understand its message of intergalactic peace, love and understanding. As they take the stage, it’s pretty clear where we stand. Frontman Zpor adorns a plasma globe helmet and a long, Xylanthian gown, whilst the drummer, to you or me, bears an uncanny resemblance to an Earth-bound amphibian (no offence if you’re reading, sir).

“Take some time to view the moon,” is the central mantra of their opening song, and perhaps that is worth remembering every now and then. A statutory figure at the back of the stage dressed remarkably like Bender from Futurama suddenly bursts into life on that line’s first appearance, and rarely stops dancing thereafter. The song climaxes with a manic rave breakdown, replete with dizzy synths and strobing lights.

A pair of dancing female mushrooms join Henge for the next number – I mean, talk about taking the subtext and making it literal. Meanwhile, someone at the front of the crowd holds a guitar-wielding dummy aloft. If I were to include every little subversive, acid-tripping detail of this gig, this review would be a doctoral thesis, but I imagine you get the idea. Their Mutagian microphones come across very similarly to our native vocoders, as a track presumably titled ‘Everything That’s Happening Is Happening To You’ demonstrates, and Zpor too appears to have mastered the local Manchester dialect astonishingly accurately, as his communication between songs reveals.

They save their two most cherished songs for late in the set: last year they released a ‘double b-side’ single including ‘In Praise of Water’ and ‘Valerian Tea’, and tonight the former features a keyboard solo that makes a great substitute for a Ray Manzarek-style Hammond organ, whilst the latter is the jauntiest, most head-bobbing track of the night. Musically, they are as adventurous as their extra-curricular antics suggest, with several of the night’s high spots coming when they cut loose with their mutant electro and let it roam free.

Henge - outside The Ruby Lounge

Henge – outside The Ruby Lounge

“There’s time for one more – do you fancy a singalong?” asks Zpor after just over an hour. Those words do not prepare the audience for what they’re about to experience, however. Ably assisted by cue cards held up on stage (a la Super Furry Animals), the chorus of the final song is sung back at Henge in full voice. “We demand/That the weapons of war/Are manufactured no more/Demilitarise/We demand/That we have in its place/A means to unite/And colonise space” it goes, on endless repeat, each time louder.

Satisfied with the feedback, the band get busy freaking out at full volume for several minutes, but when that subsides, they, as us, are taken aback that the room is STILL singing that chorus. The moment carries them away, and they jump down from the stage and begin to march through the Ruby Lounge, whilst the humans follow in awe, and in song. The conga line eventually spills out onto the street, where Henge’s mission to spread their message of peace to all mankind will inevitably need to find itself anyway. We do have fun bands on this planet, but nothing quite like this.

Henge: Official | Facebook | Twitter

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.