“Why does the UK hate warm water?” seems like such a perfectly phrased question about one of the more bonkers aspects of British society. And PWR BTTM’s first record, Ugly Cherries, is such a delectable listen, and my anticipation of a good time at Deaf tonight so high anyway, that by the time I saw this afternoon that the New York punk duo had posted about one of my personal pet peeves on the internet, I was totally onside with this band. I mean, which crazy Brit propagated the concept of separate hot and cold taps as a good idea? You know, sometimes it’s the little things.

Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins both identify as queer and tonight are dressed respectively in a purple blouse and shorts combo and a green, orange and red stripy dress. Hopkins’ face is heavily made up and glittery, and a bouquet of red roses is affixed to Bruce’s drum kit. Daniel Fane has more of a roadie look, albeit with a fetching moustache, but he has in fact been poached from support band Orchards to provide some low end on bass. The set this evening is a little late in getting under way due to some mysterious feedback coming through the speakers during tune-up. The band playfully blames our weird British mobile-phone signals for wreaking havoc with their American equipment, so we all try switching to airplane mode to see whether that will help.

It’s easy to imagine Bruce and Hopkins each putting on a fine solo show. They can both do everything: sing lead, play drums, bring out pretty melodies or squealing noise from their guitars, or perform what is essentially ad-lib stand-up comedy between one song and the next. This full array of talents is on show here at Deaf as the pair swap instruments and lead-vocal duties on a regular basis. The timing of the band’s first visit to Manchester feels somewhat unusual in the sense that forthcoming album number two, Pageant (out 12 May), is a full month away from release at this point, but plenty of these new songs are getting an outing here, and thankfully it seems the duo’s knack for infectious hooks and witty lyrics has not deserted them.

‘LOL’, a track released yesterday, sees the band welcome Lucy Evers from Orchards back up on stage on additional vocals for this live rendition of a typically sincere and sensitive song. Representing the LGBTQ+ community is something that Bruce and Hopkins take seriously, but in so doing the band is so much fun, as highlighted by the likes of recent single ‘Big Beautiful Day’. ‘Serving Goffman’ finds Bruce calling mom to discuss gender; crowd favourite ‘I Wanna Boi’ is an advertisement in song for the ideal boy; and Hopkins is not afraid to be vulnerable on ‘Nu 1’.

After the sell-out crowd lures the band back out for an encore by shrieking like seagulls, Bruce requests that no filming takes place of what is supposed to be kind of a surprise song on the new album. Those on stage could not be any more complementary of the staff here tonight, and Deaf being the near-perfect gig venue that it is, all being well Hopkins will be greeted backstage by a mixer tap to wash off all that glitter before bed. Such a luxury would be well earned after this dazzling performance.

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Steve Jones

Apart from about five years in total, I've always lived in Manchester. Shame about the weather and lack of beach, but I do like it here. My all-time favourite gig would have to be The National at the Academy in about 2010, although I did get Matt Berninger's mic cable wrapped around my neck (that was a close one). My guilty pleasures include the music of Bruce Springsteen, and I also felt a bit bad for feeling such joy at seeing Counting Crows live in the early 2000s. I recommend Lifter Puller, a rather obnoxious and unpleasant-sounding band that I can't seem to get enough of, even though they are long disbanded. Amongst my Silent Radio gigs, I was blown away by John Murry. I'll let you know if anything tops that one.