Photo: Peter Rea

Photo’s: Peter Rea


I guess being the son of one of the most iconic musicians of the 20th century and an internationally renowned avant-garde artist, brings with it a lot of expectation concerning your creative talents. Sean Lennon, whose godfather is Elton John – who appeared in Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker – who co-wrote a song with Lenny Kravitz that appeared on the album ‘Mama Said’ when he was 16; stops off in Manchester with longterm girlfriend/co-writer/multi-instrumentalist model, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, as they head to Liverpool… where the airport is named after his Dad.

Purple Heart Parade support – almost as close to godlike status as tonight’s headliners due to the fact they featured on our FAB radio show last month. The Manc swagger of the dual tambourine-wielding frontman is unmistakable. Sounding like early Verve, their laid-back shoe-gaze psychedelia carries us effortlessly in a dream-like state to our chosen destination. For want of a setlist, their 3rd to last tune was really very good indeed. Forthcoming releases from this relatively new band are hotly anticipated, as their successful festival tour hooks new followers in it’s wake.

GOASTT released their 3rd album Midnight Sun earlier this year. Rockier and more rounded than the previous two, it promises to create a sharp boost in awareness due to it’s undeniable quality. They’re like listening to psych-rock from a fairground carousel, drawing unavoidable comparisons to The Beatles and occasionally, Pink Floyd, with a French twist added by Charlotte’s playful breathy voice.

Photo: Peter Rea

They start as the new album does with ‘Too Deep’ – a monster riff and powerful phased vocals from Sean show that they mean business. He stomps around the stage with his long hair flying about from under his cowboy hat like a spectacled, bearded version of Slash. Charlotte is difficult to ignore, bathed in the brightest lights (or maybe that was just my imagination), wearing denim shorts and a cropped ‘BOY’ t-shirt – her electric blue bass the only thing covering her midriff.

‘Xanadu’ follows, laden with guitar effects and a pounding beat. “Animals have escaped the zoo…” now there’s a headline that would make me pay attention to the news. The instrumental at the end of ‘Animals’, following the raucous euphoric chorus, gives me enough breathing space to realise I’m really enjoying this gig. The new album’s title track maintains the momentum before one of the highlights for me – ‘Poor Paul Getty’, introduced as both comical and tragic… something about cutting a lad’s ear off with some garden shears. ‘Johannesburg’ showcases Charlotte’s silky vocals perfectly, along with ‘Jardin du Luxembourg’, which is one of the first song’s that she ever wrote.

The Ruby Lounge has hosted some of Sean’s favourite bands and he’s glad to be here, but one mention of his ancestral heritage in Liverpool brings out the boisterous proud Manc footy fan in the crowd. His favourite film is Clockwork Orange, but he won’t tell us why. ‘Don’t Look Back Orpheus’ is in E-flat, apparently… and he likes to sing Sinead O’Connor ballads while tuning his guitar.

‘Devil You Know’ is another highlight, building tension through great drumming and vocals, with a release of energy in the chorus. ‘Moth To A Flame’ starts like The Beatles ‘Because’ and then flows into Pink Floyd’s ‘Brain Damage’. There are lots of “La la la’s”, which is always good. How many tunes can I name as a highlight?  Add this one to the list.

The stage is her catwalk as Charlotte crosses to play keys, hurdling Sean who is playing with his effects pedal.  They close with a cover of Syd Barrett’s ‘Long Gone’, who Sean has obvious affection for – a rendition slightly delayed by some over intoxicated punters who are drawing far too much attention to themselves. I blame them for the lack of an encore.

The album is superb, and I very much hope they continue along this vein for the next one. There’s enough depth here to keep us going in the meantime. Their travels and A+ list of contacts will no doubt bring about further interesting influences for their ever-developing sound. If they could perform a gig on a carousel in the woods, surrounded by circus folk, that would also be great. Thanks.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.