The Murlocs


For a harmonica-playing psych-enthusiast, Melbourne band The Murlocs were essentially a dream come true.  I immediately fell for Ambrose Kenny-Smith’s snarling vocals and classic bluesman swagger, and the garage guitars.

They were also my introduction to the wonderful Flightless record label – an introduction that led me to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Orb, The Babe Rainbow, Pipe-Eye, all kinds of Aussie psych gems.

So naturally, their first time in Manchester feels like a big occasion. The Deaf is packed out to the point of discomfort, and the band sweat through a career-spanning set in their trademark boiler suits.

Opening with ‘Shit Storm’ from their latest LP Old Locomotive, the tone is set for a rowdy night, and a raucous mosh pit is in full swing from the get go. For a relatively small band from the other side of the world, The Murlocs have managed to secure themselves a devoted fanbase in this city. This is something Ambrose evidently enjoys, at one point asking for more light on the audience so he could watch how his band is going down.

Midway through the set, second album single ‘Rolling On’ provokes an elated response, and is followed quickly by first album highlight ‘Loopholes’. This is where the harmonica really comes into its own, punctuating the meandering guitar riffs and verses. Ambrose is an excellent frontman, commanding the stage and moving perfectly in time with his incredibly tight band.

For a man with such an out-there side project as Pipe-Eye, Cook Craig (who also plays guitar in King Gizzard with Ambrose) has a very collected stage presence. He fills the John Entwistle role – placid and still, holding down the bottom end with just the right amount of flashiness. Callum Shortal plays a menacing lead guitar, his riffs evoking the wild west at times.

‘Space Cadet’, segued into early EP cut ‘Bogan’s Grove’ provides the gig’s high point, and the audience is then treated to a double of singles ‘Noble Soldier’ and ‘Oblivion’ to finish.

The Murlocs wear the psych influences proudly, but inject significant blues and garage elements to ensure that they stand apart from their Flightless peers. The songs are often short, and the structures poppier than many of the band members’ other projects.

The Deaf proved to be the perfect venue for this band. It is a riotous evening. Ambrose ends the gig making vague promises to return to Manchester, and plenty of people will be hoping he comes good on that one.

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Lloyd Bent

Manchester born radio-dabbler who burrows away under record and book collections whenever possible. Has interest in an eclectic variety of music, perhaps most significantly funk, post-punk and the more underground indie. Harbors ambitions to be a full-time writer, currently studies at Uni, works as a radio DJ and runs Indie DJ nights in the bars every now and again. Plays and attends gigs all over the place, but preferably in Manchester where independent venues are both commonly found and reliably fantastic.