Television: Manchester University – live review
17th November 2013
Louder Than War presents its second review of Television on their recent tour – this time by Alex Staszko. All photos © Alex too.
Yay! Television return to Manchester after eight years to play their seminal Marquee Moon album. Being perverse fuckers, they don’t play it in track for track order, but they play it all (somewhere in the set) and boy do they play it well.
Unfortunately, guitarist Richard Lloyd left the band shortly after they last played here, saying he would never play with the band ever again. To be honest I thought they had split up, but they plan to finish off recording 16 or so as yet unreleased tracks. Indeed there are new songs played tonight (unless they’re from the poorly received 1992 reformation album, the one I don’t have).
They shuffle on exactly on time at 9pm and there is complete reverential silence. None of the band says anything for what seems like an age, they tune up and then they start to play, they jam something out for two minutes or so and it’s fantastic. New hatted guitarist, Jimmy Rip, is an excellent foil for Tom Verlaine, both playing off each other amazingly. During Prove It Verlaine does some excellent touch style guitar that’s just mesmerising. Before second track, Little Johnny Jewel, Verlaine announces “it’s time for the photographers to leave”. (At least one contributor to LTW has had absolutely enough of umpteen photographers getting in the way of the paying audience trying to take photos for their own portfolio – he would have been pleased tonight.) All songs played tonight are jammed out to great effect, especially Little Johnny Jewel which sees Rip playing off the drummer Billy Ficca, whilst Verlaine effortlessly sings the vocals in a care free style. The song ends with a simple “thank you”, they know it sounds great.
Elevation gets a standing ovation (well it would do had everyone not been standing already). Somewhere along the way Verlaine asks for the backlights to be turned down so his guitar isn’t in constant shadow. It hasn’t affected the bands playing to my ears, there’s much guitar noodling (a good thing), and Fred Smith’s bass and backing vocals are more than solid throughout.
The new songs sound great and fit in effortlessly with the old. Verlaine doesn’t say too much, preferring to let the music speak, until a Scottish drunk shouts something unintelligible, to which he quips “a new language can’t wait to learn that one”, in his New Yark drawl (whilst tuning up), classic deadpan.
After just over an hour we get a note perfect Marquee Moon which appears to be the only song not jammed out too much and it comes in at about 11 minutes tonight.
After an amazing reception from the audience, for the encore we get another little bit of a jam and then Prove It which is unfortunately cut short after about a minute because all they can hear is the floor tom echoing from the back wall and ceiling (not helped by the venue recently removing the acoustic drapes from the ceiling during the last refurbishment). A crowd member shouts “it sounds awesome out here”. The sound is quickly sorted, but all we get is See No Evil and an apologetic, “thank you goodnight”.
If you weren’t there on Sunday I feel sorry for you, ’cause you missed a cracker. Definitely one of the gigs of the year!
Words & Pictures by Alex Staszko. More writing by Alex on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.