20 May 2017
Jimmy’s, a relatively new addition to Manchester’s Northern Quarter cultural scene, was the place of local band Crimsons EP launch, Emily Oldfield reports for Louder Than War.
The eagerly-awaited title track Shy Talk was poised provocatively last on the set… For what the audience had first ahead of them was a well-assembled setlist which managed to build audience energy for a blistering finale. Intelligent choice. This included a powerful performance from The Nix and Sam Craighan, plus DJ set from the Dantevilles – pulling people into a spin before Crimsons even began.
In fact, the audience really were worth remarking on during this gig. After all, it was Walt Whitman who apparently said ‘To have great poets, there must be great audiences too’, and testament to the poetic power of Crimsons’ developed work, the basement of Jimmy’s NQ burst into expression of life, movememt, as the band took to the stage – like a sudden flame in a dark chamber – poetics meeting auditory power. Opening with I Bring the Rain, Crimsons were quick to captivate the crowd, Sam Cartwright’s vocals with their distinctive feline quality having developed even further, sashaying around every word with a real air of flair, almost seething in their seductive range. This is music which turns an audience into real listeners, incensed by the sound – and that’s a skill.
Following with the tracks New Song and One By One, an intense energy still maintained a deep groove which draws Crimsons’ sound above so much else out there right now – a three-piece capable of serious auditory power whilst avoiding the clichés curtailing so many trios. Even their cover song I Just Wanna Make Love was electrically out-of-the-ordinary and a cut above, Adam Kenny’s drums driving with essential power yet never flustered. Notably too, Lucas Berry’s bassline is the sign of a musician tuned into the very sensuousness of sound – highly important for a track like this. As Cartwright clutched the microphone and leaned into the crowd, bodies beckoning and braying with movement – never mind a basement, we could have been back in the sixties, when gigs became great hot celebrations of sound and love. And yes, we were loving it.
Yet what I admire especially about Crimsons, is although they have a captivating psychedelic quality and an enchanting style to their performance, they do not package or market themselves under one particular genre. They let the audience unwind in the experience, appreciate them for what they are. That includes the highly rousing duality of Cartwright’s well-crafted guitar pieces along with Berry’s unfaltering bass and Kenny providing not just rhythm but a rallying sound in its own right – especially on Idle Ways. Yes, opening with an almost roaring guitar and an air of atmospheric discord, this was a well-placed penultimate track telling of ‘day by day’ – yet quickly overcoming any kind of repetition with an ascending guitar solo and relentless bass.
It was Shy Talk which closed the set, showing the three musicians making a melting pot of blissful sound – the vocals close to a cry at points and spiralling guitars giving all a night to go out on a high. If there was one way to launch an EP and make it memorable, this was it.
Words by Emily Oldfield© whose author page is here, photos by Ellen Mcgoran