The Membranes photo by (C)SDPhotography


Sleaford Mods made an inspired choice with asking The Membranes to support them in Manchester. Their brash muscular punk will appeal to enough in the room, but is the right side of obnoxious to thoroughly piss off any non-believers, thus ensuring everyone is fired up by the time the headliners take to the stage.

A Friday night support slot is not the most forgiving place for a band to be. It’s clear by the time they take to the stage that plenty have decided the comfy leather sofas in Big Hands are more appealing – a decision I can confess to having made myself enough times. Even still, a half full Academy 2 is an ample enough crowd to attempt to convert.

As you can imagine, John Robb wears his heart on his ample sleeve. He skulks the stage proudly, looking intently at the crowd, talking any opportunity to gee up the crowd and create an energetic atmosphere.

There is certainly more to The Membranes than 70s punk nostalgia; Steve Albini’s playing career is an obvious influence, shades of both Shellac and Big Black littered throughout and even stoner rock influences like Om are on show. Anyone who has read Robb’s writing will know how much he values originality, but recognising it and producing it are very different things. That fine line is tread carefully here and is much less derivative than I once feared.

A gut busting half hour set is over in a flash, straying occasionally from punk roots into doom rock and psych. There appears to be as many converts in the crowd as there are confused. Much like the band who invited them to play this certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and it’s hard to imagine The Membranes would want it any other way.

Joseph Curran

Features Editor and gig reviewer