Then Thickens

Then Thickens


I arrive at Night and Day Cafe this evening wearing a unnecessarily big coat and I’ve somehow managed to scratch my forehead, so I’ve got a big red mark right between my eyes. It is safe to say I am feeling uncomfortable and I all I want is a nice, quiet bar to go chill in whilst I get ready to watch tonight’s headliners Then Thickens. Instead I’m greeted by a busy, sweaty bar. There’s blokes with shaved heads in buttoned up polo shirts and girls dolled up for a night on the docks. They appear to be the mates of the support band, More Trees Please, who I can’t say are my cup of tea at all, playing songs that sound like covers but apparently aren’t. Not. In. The. Mood.

But I see Then Thickens leader Jon-Lee Martin walking around the venue smiling and hugging members of the crowd, I then see his band setting up and feel a sudden sense of calm. I shuffle to the front of the room still boiling in my massive jacket but then the band start playing and for the next hour I am totally theirs.

Then Thickens are here tonight to play the last night of the short UK tour in support of their brand new LP Colic. The album comes pretty hot off the heels of last year’s Death Cap at Angelzarke LP and much like their debut, Colic is another strong set of anthemic indie rock songs full of powerful melodies with witty, wistful lyrics. Tonight’s set leans on the new record  which is much to my delight as it has been currently brightening up my morning commute in all its melancholic glory. The big drum smash of ‘Cum Summer’ followed by the sharp guitar melodies in ‘My Sunday’ sit together perfectly and the band hardly take a breath from there. As the guitarists stop to tune, their keyboardist keeps playing and links the band into the next tune which gives the set this super tight, professional feel that keep you on your toes.

Although I haven’t fully submersed myself with the songs in Death Cap at Angelzarke, the songs that do get an airing tonight give me the ultimate urge to do so with tracks like ‘Restart Your Heart’, pounding away with a driving beat and ripping riff. There is also the magnificent ‘Tiny Legs’ which I think you would call ‘the hit’. It seems like it tonight anyway, as a bunch of bearded men at the front break down and throw their arms around each as they passionately sing the moving chorus hook of “Time forgets, lay down your heavy head”. It’s just a really well written and climatic track that has everyone in the room swaying.

There isn’t much in the way of in-between song chat but with songs this good, you don’t need it. And what I like is, every time Jon-Lee does speak he’s thanks the crowd with absolute sincerity, clapping them back and raising his cup. With one final ‘Thank you so much, look after each other and get home safe’, the band finish with the title track of the new album, an epic track that builds and builds on a wonderful crescendo as Jon-Lee sings “And we all sing from the same hymn sheet”. A truly unifying way to end the set, Jon-Lee really has a way of bringing everyone into his head.

I leave the Night and Day feeling totally uplifted and the scratch on my head doesn’t bother me that more and my coat is now doing its job of keeping me warm on the way home. On my way out I bump into Jon-Lee having a fag and I tell how great I thought the set and how much I’m enjoying the new record. He smiles, extends his arm to shake my hand, thanks me and as I walk off shouts ‘have a good night’. Thanks to you and your band Jon-Lee, I’ve already had a good night and I’m off to bed smiling again.

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Benjamin Forrester

I joined the Silent Radio family near the very start of my move to Manchester in 2012 and I'm still having the best time! During my stay here I've been in two noisy bands, had a not so noisy solo project, made a zine, started a blog and started a radio show. It's been productive to say the least and it's all been intersperse with a shit load of gig going and beer drinking. I would love it if you followed me on twitter @dr_brainless for excitable tweets about playing, watching and living new music.