This is perhaps the fourth or fifth time I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Gilla Band (former Girl Band), the Irish noise rockers who tear off the roof of any venue they play with their ferocious sound, and I’m pleased to say that the power they possess as a live unit has not diminished having been on the road for some time. This time round they have nothing in the way of new music to showcase, they’re playing Yes, a smaller venue than they’re used to, as part of the multi-space building’s fifth birthday (a reminder of both passing time, and the fact that Yes seems to have been part of the Manchester live scene for far longer, such has been it’s spectacular impact). For want of a better description, this is almost a greatest hits set, a victory lap for their career high 2022 album ‘Most Normal’ and a celebration of some of the songs that got them there.

There’s a relatively early start due to a Palestine fundraiser night covering the whole of Yes’ four floors later on, a cause worth sticking around for and putting a few pints worth of money in the coffers as the atrocities inflicted upon innocent Palestinians continue to kill and injure thousands without an end in sight. So Gilla Band are not hanging around, they’re on stage and they’re straight into their business, cranking up the churning noise they do to such an incredible effect. However, it feels like it takes a few songs to really take off, there’s almost a lethargy to the beginning that worries me, like touring has taken its toll and this is the end of a punishing schedule that means this might be a bit low key. They sound great, but that electric energy they generate in a room, which should be easy for them with the modest size of the Pink Room, isn’t quite there. And then ‘Lawman’ happens, and from hereon in its full tilt, powerhouse Gilla through to the end. ‘Lawman’, from way back in their early days, is still a behemoth, its thrilling guitars that sound like like a chainsaw attacking a metal fence testing the limits of Yes’ soundsystem, Dara O’Kiely’s unique voice bellowing lines like ‘I used to be good looking’ as the crowd bellow them back and a moshpit forms, a catalyst for the rest of the show.

There are highlights aplenty: an off kilter, almost queasy ‘Shoulderblades’, the only opportunity in gig going to holler ‘it’s too late, for Rikki Lake!’ with a crowd of people and not get weird looks; a pummelling ‘Backwash’, propelled forward by drummer Adam Faulkner’s flawless, metronomic rhythms that somehow keep the band in check despite the seeming promise of regular collapse into chaos; an incendiary ‘Post Ryan’, a track with so much studio wizardry on the album, here recreated as an almost techno banger. The thing about Gilla Band is that you can dance to them, and this is because their sound is so in sync with aggressive techno that if you dropped some of their tracks into a set at Berghain no doubt the crowd would be very into it. This is evidenced by their now legendary
cover of Blawan’s ‘Why They Hide The Bodies Under My Garage?’ Blawan is one of techno’s finest purveyors, and on his own as well as with Pariah under the Karenn moniker, he constructs some of the most forward looking, dark, pummelling techno you can imagine.  It’s easy to see why Gilla Band have taken one of his earliest cuts and turned into an even bigger sounding, even more aggressive, even louder monster of a live track that takes the roof off Yes and blows everyone’s minds in the room. It’s probably the most fun you can have in a packed sweaty room on a Tuesday night. Probably.

With the now familiar set closer of ‘Eight Fivers’ (‘I spent all my money on shit clothes!’ – no band in recent history has been so quotable IMHO) they’re gone, leaving the crowd blown away, sweaty and energised, dispersing into the freezing December evening with every atom of their being buzzing around their vessel of a body. Hopefully they’ve gone for a well earned break, but also hopefully to get back to that studio and make more utterly unique, utterly mind blowing noise-art-rock for years to come.