Three men wearing bandanas over their faces have temporarily hijacked the top floor of this thoughtfully designed venue. The support band Is Tropical rattle out a few catchy tunes that sound like The Stranglers performing cover versions of classic TV advert jingles with their new synth.

Between band entertainment is provided by a rather drunk man wandering around the relatively small hall space shouting “Lee!” at the top of his voice, while carrying two beers. The headline act soon takes to the stage and the man; now confident enough to shout whatever he pleases, sporadically hollers “Good Shoes!”

Vocals/guitarist Rhys Jones doesn’t look at all like I’d imagined, they all have a school band quality about them, wearing their uncle’s 80’s hand-me-downs. He’s in an oversized Goofy t-shirt, lead guitarist Stephen Leach is wearing Day-Glo Bermuda shorts and bassist William Church has a sleeveless top. The drummer, Thomas Jones, thrashes his arms over his head and rarely shows his face from behind his Beatles bob haircut.

I’d heard rumours of encouraged stage invasions at previous gigs; their style certainly suggests it could kick off into frenzy. They start with “The Way My Heart Beats”, the first tune from the new album ‘No Hope, No Future’. The frantic pace and energy of the tune isn’t translating well from stage to crowd, as if the band are playing behind double-glazing. What should potentially be a riotous mosh pit, currently stands pensive and muted.

The third tune comes from their first album ‘Think Before You Speak’ and it becomes clear the older, more punky material is what most are here to enjoy. Rhys ditches his guitar and jumps into the crowd to jumpstart the atmosphere. It works until the slower “Everything You Do”, which follows.

Blue, Red and Green lights flash rapidly and the crowd push further towards the stage. “Sophia” has them singing along, and pogoing begins during “We Are Not The Same”. A couple more tunes from the new album before Rhys announces “Time to do some tunes you’ll like”. Three classics including “Morden” prompt people to attempt crowd surfing on a gathering in front of the stage that doesn’t seem large enough to cope with the weight. A tall blonde girl is carried forward and dropped in front of the bouncer-less stage, raising concern from the band. A lad manages to get on the stage for a short time and celebrates to the audience before returning to the melee.

They end with their latest hit “Under Control” which is well received and continues the dancing until an abrupt end.

Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.