Charlie-Boyer---The-Voyeurs – SOUP KITCHEN, MANCHESTER – 

I think we’re all starting to lose count of the number of bands like Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs who have emerged in the last 2 or 3 years. You know the ones – bands in a perpetual haze of smoke, with brightly coloured imaginations and great swathes of static noise encompassing the beautiful melodies that they appear embarrassed by. See Tame Impala, Temples, The Horrors or Toy, the last of which The Voyeurs were last seen in this city supporting at the end of last year. It was a good fit that night, and it set them up as a major prospect for 2013.

And now here we are, mere days from the release of their debut album Clarietta, on Heavenly Recordings (spoiler: it’s brilliant), and they arrive back in Manchester to cash in on some of the hype. Somewhat surprisingly, Soup Kitchen is fairly modestly populated, which doesn’t do justice to the sense of anticipation that some of us certainly have. You might say at a show of this kind that it’s expected for the onlookers to appear studiously aloof at all times, but if they were on this occasion, they were only reflecting the energy coming from the stage itself. Keyboarder Ross Kristian and guitarist Sam Davies are eccentric hybrids of pop culture’s past – think Brian Eno/Tim Minchin and Ralf Hutter/Buster Keaton respectively, just without the flamboyance that those characters might suggest. As a group of performers they are pretty static, and lean on the sounds that they create to engage us.

At times, the sounds are extraordinary though, and within 20 seconds of walking on stage, they have locked firmly into a psychedelic jam, filled out with thick, scuzzy guitar noodling and tight rhythms. But they aren’t so indulgent as to stick inside such a comfort zone for great stretches of time, opting instead to alternate between this freak-rock and the kinds of 70’s New York underground punkishness that ALL existing reviews of the band proudly proclaim as their own. The comparisons are obvious though, not just because of the physical similarity that Boyer himself possesses to Tom Verlaine, but also due to the same brittle playfulness that some of the Voyeurs’ tunes have that defined bands like The Modern Lovers.

 In all, the night is a success, with the stand-offish crowd eventually buckling under temptation and nodding along hypnotically to memorable tracks like ‘Things We Be’ and ‘Be Glamorous’, but the show-stealer is saved for the very end. ‘I Watch You’ was the band’s debut single just 7 months ago, and remains their most exciting moment, more so even live than on record. Intricately marrying the two sides of the band’s personality, it both crackles with cool, spikey, angst-bitten defiance and burns with careering, threatening, uncontrolled headiness. It’s a wonderful combination that few bands can achieve, and draws to a close a 35 minute confirmation that Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs are a new band to be excited about.

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.