– Deaf Institute, Manchester –

This is my first visit to Manchester’s Deaf Institute, in the heart of studentsville, near The BBC. It’s a beautifully converted grade II listed neo gothic building with 3 floors to function as a café, bar and music hall.

I walk into the full to capacity space just as the support act, Moon Wiring Club, is starting his set. The ‘club’, apparently, only contains one man in a smart jacket, hunched over a box of electrical tricks. Projecting on the screen behind him is what appears to be a compilation of clips from UK Gold’s Halloween special weekend (featuring Frankie Howerd). Samples from the clips repeat over a soundtrack that could’ve been a collaboration between Jeff Wayne and Jean Michel Jarre. The set is at it’s most thrilling when sound effects from the screen synch with heavier break beats, like a Cold Cut remix of Tales of The Unexpected.

Looking back at Broadcast’s discography, it’s difficult to know who is going to turn up on stage tonight. The latest release is a joint project with The Focus Group and the last LP from Broadcast themselves was ‘The Future Crayon’ in 2006.

Trish Keenan (vocals) and James Cargill (Bassist) appear onstage and position themselves at facing tables, either side of the screen. Each are armed with an array of drum machines and synthesizers linked to microphones and guitars.

The set starts with a soothing black and white experimental film that looks like what you’d see if you set the brain wash machines from The Ipcress File or A Clockwork Orange to ‘nice’. Ten minutes of hypnotic and never uncomfortable oohing and aahing from Trish float over James’s pulsing classic Korg synth as the crowd appear mesmerized. The screen changes to a primary colour-fest as James picks up the bass guitar and activates the beat. The introduction of lyrics recover the crowd from their trance and head nodding becomes unavoidable.

The set continues to undulate, at times beautiful in its simplicity, and at others shaking the wooden foundations of the balcony above me with unforgiving flabby bass and high-pitched guitar riffs. The tunes all blend into one another and I abandon any hope of deciphering the set list. Heavy reverb creates an atmosphere like Jefferson Airplane being played through a digitally enhanced gramophone in a cathedral (or something).

A Portishead beat with a sunny Boards of Canada twist kicks in towards the end, before Trish pulls out what looks like half an oar that she’s carved into a guitar, which sounds like a sitar/banjo hybrid.

The band leave the stage with the expectation of an encore that doesn’t arrive and gives me no choice but to listen their back catalogue when I get home.

Peter Rea

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