– KRAAK, MANCHESTER –
This is my second night in succession at Kraak, the schedule here this month isn’t all that busy but quality seems guaranteed. Hey! Manchester have put together tonight’s lineup to celebrate the launch of Easter‘s debut album ‘Innocence Man’, which was released a few weeks ago through White Box recordings.
Gladly, it’s already pretty busy in here and the sound is as loud and as sharp as ever. The first band on the roster are duo Suttree, who are performing a rare electric set as I enter the room. There’s just a guitarist and drummer, neither of whom choose to sing (maybe I missed any singing), but the set is nonetheless incredibly intriguing and absorbing. 7 track bluegrass album ‘That There Before’ sounds a whole lot different to this – for a start, the drums have replaced a violin. Whatever they are playing, it makes me want to hear more… hopefully this arrangement is being put to tape.
Azuma Vega follow, the 3 guitarists have all opted for checkered grunge shirts, kindly letting us know what to expect. Originally from York, the band are slowly migrating to Manchester after a brief rest period, having scattered to different parts of the country.
Lead singer Luca Corda has an honest and down-to-earth Pavement style vocal, which creates an interesting balance along with a Sonic Youth / Math Rock wall of noise. Instrumental ‘7/8′ impresses me the most – starting with Rich Clarke’s’ deep bassline, using the suggested time signature, and then drummer (James Milton) and the guitars introduce themselves late on, building with twists and turns that keep you guessing. They stop dead… a bit of cheeky light finger-picking from Dan Vallins, and then they simultaneously launch back into the heavy stuff as if it’s no challenge at all.
Luca’s shouty rock voice and the guitar solos take it to another level towards the end of the set… the crowd slowly grow in appreciation throughout. Expect to hear a lot more from these.
Skilled musicians are in abundance, tonight. North Manchester’s Thomas Long fronts Easter, who comprise drummer Andrew Cheetham from Lonelady, bassist (and brother of Azuma Vega bassist) Gavin Clarke and experimental guitarist Danny Saul.
They start with ‘Can’t Write’ – the light, Bernard Butler style riff sits over a pounding drumbeat and rapid strumming, drawing comparisons with Sebadoh and Pavement. A simple bassline ties it all together – Gavin stands calmly in the centre, amongst the chaos, with Thomas on the left under the bright light, occasionally joining Danny as they throw their guitars about, teasing controlled feedback from the amps and messing around with the floor switches. The drummer is in the zone, eyes closed, happily and impressively going about his business, arms thrashing above his head.
Tom’s vocal is deep and strong, like a combination of iLiKETRAiNS’ David Martin, and Dinosaur Jrs’ J.Mascis. ‘Damp Patch’ is one of the tunes that brought me here tonight, followed by personal favourite ‘Somethin’ American’; the tempo is chilled but there’s a lot going on. Danny has been given free rein to experiment and improvise here. The chorus is infectious and the intensity is gradually being cranked up with heavy use of the cymbals.
‘Pages’ is airier and lightens things up in an almost pop fashion. ‘Never Me’ steers us back into the dark, providing another highlight with the use of pitch bending, and a memorable bassline that impressively follows the many changes. ‘Holy Island’ concludes the album, as well as tonight’s set. The two guitarists end by creating random noise from their instruments, at one stage almost dragging the cargo netting from the ceiling as they writhe around. The ample crowd loudly show their appreciation and then hang near the merch stall to buy into what they’ve just witnessed.
Tonight’s performance was a fitting way for Easter to smash the champagne bottle on the album and let it sail. Airplay from BBC 6 Music and a number of high profile support slots must surely have prepared them sufficiently for a headline tour. “Begin, again, begin again”.