Rebellion's 3rd Birthday
We celebrate a venue that has become the beating heart of the Manchester rock and metal scene
Images and Words: Phil Weller & Anthony Firmin
Celebrating their third birthday, Rebellion played host to two tribute bands in Mused and, coming out of retirement for one special show, Enraged. However, it is original, local acts that have thrust the venue to the forefront of the Manchester rock and metal community, turning it into the hub, the beating heart and nucleus of the scene. In just a year, the venue has been integral in Voodoo Blood’s near-meteoric rise: From winning over blues rock fans while supporting RavenEye to showing they can roll with the punches at heavier, more doom and stoner oriented shows and their packed out EP launch show last month.
Those present will never forget the carnage of Halloween 2015, with over 500 people turning the venue into one massive party, PIST, Foetal Juice, Bong Cauldron and more providing the soundtrack. As we wrote at the time, it is the local, underground bands, the underdogs who are making the scene what it is, and Rebellion has staked its claim as its official home – “Their hunger and raw, unrelenting desire and love to do what they do – and for tuppence too – makes them thrive. I feel truly at home here, surrounded by drunken goblins and superheroes, by good friends and fresh, filthy music.”
The countless all dayers and DIY gigs all help fuel the fire and keep the alternative music scene in Manchester alive, with more and more international acts also scouting out the venue as part of UK and European tours. And Rebellion’s vision too is ever evolving, helping to become more accommodating for the sake of the scene. It has one of the best stages in the city and constant tweaks only help improve the venue. So let’s party.
Prognosis, having played their first ever gig here some 18 months ago, and having pulled off their first headline performance on that same stage earlier in the month, return to provide support for tonight’s two main acts. And what a difference those 18 months have made with the release of a physical EP earlier this year, followed by the excellent digital release of Drones, with the transitioning between drummers sandwiched between the two.
The band has matured and progressed as a consequence, both in the maturity of their playing and the quality of their writing. And the 40 or so minutes they play this evening demonstrates they are a tour-de-force with the set mainly consisting of newer material, such as Waste with its flanged-bass intro and the twin-tapping in Downfall. Phantom is a long slab of heavy prog chaos played tightly, with its tricky time signatures it is sure to be the highlight of the set in the future, an honour that is currently held by the aforementioned Drones. Their development sees the band exploring the progressive elements further, moving away from the straighter metal sound they started with.
This performance is seriously good, incredibly tight and possibly the best they have been live. Even though this is a support slot, many who are present will not be aware of Prognosis and the need to impress is huge, a challenge they not only rose to but succeeded at. Ignore them at your peril.
Muse t-shirts are peppered throughout the audience and those wanting a more affordable experience of a band they love are duly treated. Squint and that could be Matt Bellamy fronting Mused, the band’s tightness impeccable. They churn out a chocker setlist of the band’s classics, from the R&B of Supermassive Black Hole, to the contorted alt pop of Muscle Museum and more, it is all greeted with rapturous cheers, chants and some questionable, if not brilliant dancing. While not quite possessing the same degree of pomp and grandiosity of the real thing, there is little room for complaint.
Yet, what Mused may have lacked in that special, indescribable magic, Enraged have it in droves. This writer may adore the prior act who we have witnessed a homage to tonight, even love them to the point of religious worship, but the latter were far more entertaining, engaging and enigmatic tonight. Perhaps due in part to the lateness of their set – it is nearing midnight when they start kicking out the jams – and the audience’s average level of inebriation, but they just have something about them that gets the blood pumping. The indisputably infectious grooves of RATM, which shake the venue like a stampede of pissed off elephants is great fun. Like for like, their tones are pinpoint accurate and they leave nothing to be desired.
The rest of the night is as you’d expect from Rebellion: Shocking levels of booze consumption, strange happenings to make you question everything the next day as well as - most importantly – the most fantastic people you could wish for.
Happy bloody birthday.