10151883_710153115716137_1036202529_n– THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER –

Musicians have really had it in for technology this year; Damon Albarn conjured up a nightmarish future where everyday robots were in control, St Vincent took up the role of robot in Digital Witness singing ‘I want all of your mind’, but it was EMA who dealt the most considered and violent blow in the way of technology in her latest album The Future’s Void.

On this latest record, EMA relates to the current state of things as a ‘modern disease’, raging about selfies, the outpourings of grief on Twitter following the death of a celebrity you hitherto had no knowledge of, and most disturbingly, reducing love and romance into a ‘modern advertising campaign’ in 3Jane.

This political voice is clear from the outset tonight, with EMA narrating a spoken word piece over the pull of a bow across an electric violin, narrating how her country won the space race but pretty much failed in every other aspect and how that money getting to space may have been better spent in a Gil Scott Heron ‘Whitey on the Moon’ style.

EMA then discards her sunglasses, which she admits didn’t go down as well in humble Manchester as in swarve London, and launches into ‘Satellites (HD)’; the most accessible song of The Future’s Void where she sings ‘pull out the satellites’ as if enticing the audience to remove a piece of technology from its box, before she accordingly tears apart its qualities and properties.

 ‘So Blonde’ trundles along nicely, yet the roar of ‘he’s so blonde’ fails to reproduce the ferocity seen on the recorded version1544465_672227116175404_837700497_n, with EMA seemingly still warming up her vocals. The singer then thrusts one leg forward on to the amplifier, as the voice stands alone with instruments reduced to a minimum during ‘Mark.’ Ironically, this ballad provokes the audience to rush forward with their smart phones on record, and as EMA sings ‘I looked at the computer and it was just emptiness which made me throw up,’ the modern disease seems more poisonous than ever.

EMA then assumes a preacher-like lean on her front leg, as she engages in her most violent attack upon modern society in ‘Necromancer’. Here, the drums stomp as if leading a procession, and EMA is at her most confident, parading around the stage rapper-like as she rages ‘putting on makeup and taking selfies/is that the way you wanna be?’

The subtlety of the message is then somewhat lost in ‘Butterfly Knife’, a song about guns and teenagers which provokes the first head-bang of the night and fittingly, the first low point. The disappointment doesn’t linger though as ‘California’, the song which originally got many interest in EMA, rings out. It is absurdly beautiful, and the lack of point to everything we do is grabbed poignantly in the lyric, ‘I’m just 22 and I don’t mind dying’; although, an additional drum roll towards the end adds an unwanted cabaret moment to an otherwise solemn song.

Despair, however, is perfectly executed in ‘3Jane’,with beauty found in every crevice and corner of the song, before the level of sorrow is upped a notch on ‘Cherrylee’; a song previously recorded by EMA’s former band, Gowns where the lyrics are hidden under layers of sound yet tonight, the band leave her on stage alone to sing the words aloud yearning about the boys she wished had never touched her.

Erika then, to some, makes her most heroic move of the night pouring a glass of water over a drunken audience member, who is by now asking the guitarist out for a chicken biryani urging him to ‘cool off’. The division between audience and band is then breached, when EMA sits on the amplifier as the mournful keys of ‘Dead Celebrity’ washes over us all. This song ends with drum rolls and the sounds of fireworks going off, conjuring up an imagination of pallbearers parading a coffin past lined streets full of people, who have little or no relation to the corpse. This final moment reminds us of the grim reality of life, making it truly clear that the future is void.

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.