Riffs & Rum II @ Rebellion
Phil Weller, on the premise of free, glorious rum, heads to Rebellion for the second instalment of Riffs & Rum
The human race is, in the eyes of many, a scurge of this planet we call our home. Polluting and pillaging nature like a bee to pollen or, more potently, a horny priest to a choir boy, we can certainly be accused of all the mass destruction and devastation inflicted upon this planet’s natural beauty over the last few thousand years. But, on the flipside, man can also be credited for inventing the riff, and rum. Few things are greater than those, and so on a typically bitterly cold night in Mancunia, we descended upon Rebellion to celebrate such euphoric creations.
It was only half way through their jagged, Melvins-meets-Royal-Blood set that heavy math rockes Clenstch revealed they were a member light. A duo tonight – missing their guitarist – I don’t think I was alone in my blissful ignorance as they pounded through grooves and rasping vocal lines which had the audience rapt. Without that knowledge, you really would have no idea that this isn't how they were meant to sound. Perhaps with the presence of a guitar the Royal Blood similarities which wormed their way into my head wouldn't be so insistent, but together bassist Tom Goodall and drummer/vocalist Steve Myles are tighter than a gnat’s arse and massively, massively entertaining. You have to credit the band for playing their set regardless and, as a direct result, it’s clear that they've made a few new fans tonight. Myles’ minimalist but clinical, exceptional drum work was the band’s centre of gravity, and around it a myriad of characterful basslines oozed out of the PA.
As shots of Old J began to warm my inside, Clenstch turned up the temperature tenfold, leaving scousers The Bendal Interlude with skyscraper-high bar to match. Of course, this is a night of riff revelry and you feel that their guitarist, Stu, has something of a point to prove. A hybrid breed of thrash, which is blackened by unrelenting blast beats at times, stoner and general metal gruff, it’s a bruising set brimming with musical ingenuity and creativity. My gripe however, and I'm not alone here, was the unendurable lack of clarity in the throaty roars of their vocalist. You can’t make out any of his lyrics and, while this will work for many and indeed many other bands have found success through this formula, I'm left a little on the outside, feeling it took away from a killer musical foundation.
With the Progathon looming, Fantasist’s set tonight sealed their place as headliners of the Saturday; a daft and fun band though they may be, their level of musicianship must not be undermined and they rifled through a set which flirted with a bucket load of musical styles and aesthetics. From the swing funk of opener Slash Stab Repeat to Spadge’ Fafner’s virtuosic bass playing on the stonking Thump and beyond, here’s a band that can both put a smile on your face while your jaw simultaneously hits the floor.
“That’s our set over with,” announces Fafner, “now it’s a party” before launching the band through a delectable feast of boogie-friendly covers. Including Michael Jackson’s Black or White, Queen’s I Want It All (leaving many audience members with the sudden urge to by a sofa), Cameo’s Word Up and more, they turned what was already a frivolous night of drinking and debauchery into something more elated and sumptuously silly. They have a much proggier set in store for the Progathon we’re told: A band for whom surprises are second nature, I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us.
Words: Phil Weller