It’s rare I go to watch a band whose back catalogue I have almost no knowledge of whatsoever, but when the chance to see Wand came up I was intrigued. Having only ever heard ‘Reaper Invert’ from 2015’s Golem and ‘Pure Romance’ from the Perfume EP released this year, I was intrigued to see how such a seeming disparity of musical styles would marry up when played live. Despite the fact that Wand play neither of these tracks on this brisk Sunday evening I still come away feeling like I got the widely varying assortment of songs I expected from the headliners.

When formulating the idea for these reviews the ideas of what I’m going to write tend to form some sort of coherent whole by the time I step out of the doors at the end of the night, but this evening my mind is consistently being changed as new songs come into the mix. Vocalist Cory Hanson has a deceptively soft and soulful singing voice which often has to compete with his erratic lead guitar playing. If I tell you that a selection of items Hanson plays his instrument with tonight include a microphone stand, a microphone itself and his own teeth then you have an idea of his stage manner. Keeping some semblance of order around him are the predictably solid backing unit that you can hear on their recorded material, with a special mention going to drummer Evan Burrows for his almost metronomic ability behind the kit alongside some impressive fills and flourishes. In an interview I looked at with Burrows he states that he writes all his drum parts to maintain a ‘fidelity’ to the tracks written by Hanson whilst simultaneously attempting to create a ‘rhythmic architecture’ to underpin it. His style is certainly complementary to the tracks and when the music allows him he gets in on Hanson’s act with some erratic playing of his own. It can’t be easy to have to alter your style consistently to Wand’s varied output but Burrows is a deft touch and a vastly talented drummer. Until the memorable incident at the show’s denouement he threatens to distract attention away from his colleagues at the front of the stage.

Hanson starts the ball rolling by announcing a friend to sing on a cover of ‘Sister Ray’ by The Velvet Underground, incidentally, a band who are a solid plot on Wand’s musical landscape. It all starts innocuously enough with the temporary frontman gathering up the microphone lead and beginning to sing along. However, it soon becomes clear that he has some ideas beyond his vocal station as he treats us to a genuinely impressive if not nerve-wracking display of acrobatics by scaling the Deaf Institute’s viewing balcony and singing whilst lying down atop a metal girder. Eventually returning front and centre he picks up Hanson to play the song’s close atop his shoulders before turning to the crowd and shouting, “give it up for Wand!” It was this parting gesture of humility that added a nice touch of self-abasement to an otherwise flamboyant and show stealing effort whilst simultaneously refocusing the audience on the band for their final tune of the night. Kudos to that man.

Wand are a mixture of many things: prog, classic rock, slacker, wig out psychedelia and a dose of folk being just a few genres that float in and out of my consciousness as the night progresses. Admittedly it doesn’t all flow as well as it could with some of the more self-indulgent instrumental sections coming to rather abrupt halts as the gentler tracks of the evening are introduced but when you have a back catalogue as diverse as Wand’s this would appear to be an occupational hazard. Songs like ‘I Will Keep You Up’ are in another musical sphere to tracks like ‘Perfume’ yet they manage to bookend the same EP. Watching them live one feels genuinely like they have witnessed some kind of musical transmogrification which offers up the only word I can truly think of to describe Wand as a live act: hybrid. Even then it isn’t me who settles on this word but my fellow gig goer for the evening, so I can’t help but feel now that Wand somewhat baffled me. Despite the possible negative connotations here, seeing a band who aren’t concerned about maintaining any particular musical unity is a rare and liberating thing and certainly a live experience worth having.

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Matthew Bellingham

As an English Literature student it seemed almost a prerequisite that I should pursue some form of writing, so apologies for any undergraduate pretentiousness that is detected. I try to catch concerts in both my hometown of Manchester and my adopted University hometown of Sheffield. I started regularly attending gigs as recently as 2015, and since then have continued to turn up as frequently as possible. Personal highlights include Horsebeach's debut Manchester show and Eagulls' gig at the Broomhall Centre in Sheffield.