Jade Assembly: Sound Control, Manchester – live review
Sound Control, Manchester
4th May 2014
Bolton’s Jade Assembly perform euphoniously to a packed house in Manchester. Ian Critchley drinks tea and reviews.
“Do you serve tea?”
She paused, weighing up whether or not she should go that extra mile for a customer with a somewhat curious request. Had working in a bar truly broken her spirit? Dealing with the drunks on a daily basis can crush even the strongest of wills. I’d been on both sides of a bar and I understood completely.
“Well…” she said, “There is a kettle downstairs.”
“I have my own teabag, let’s get this party started!”
She laughed and we headed downstairs where she boiled hot water and dumped the teabag I handed her into a plastic cup meant for pints. I thanked her sincerely and headed back upstairs to watch Jade Assembly headline Manchester’s Sound Control.
The first act of the evening were Lofthouse who, though this was only their second gig as a group, attacked the stage with the bold brashness of a band with years under their belt. Their sound was a screaming evocation of the 90s BritPop sound, given an up to date twist, and made all the more aggressive due to the obvious hard rock and heavy metal influence coming in the form or their lead guitarist’s noodling solos and the pounding backbeat of their GnR shirt wearing drummer. Though there was a slight delay whilst switching from full band to acoustic, the band played an otherwise stellar set that will no doubt bolster their reputation within the indie-rock scene.
Lofthouse has played with a strong confidence but kept away from the path of arrogance. The same cannot be said for second act Freerunner, who came in the form of big arse riffs, but with a bad attitude that instantly extinguished any interest in their music. Which was a shame really, as it was clear the group were musically talented, but the smug smog of self-assurance made the entire set feel like the band thought they were doing the audience a great honour by gracing the stage with their presence. This bravado, however, was well met by some of the older members who were no doubt familiar with the stadium rock vocals and dramatic solos of the many eighties hair metal bands that inspired this sound. Looking like Kasabian but sounding like Bon fucking Jovi, Freerunner lost any credibility by acting as if they had just sold out Wembley and also by constantly clarifying how much “everyone on Soundcloud loved their music” to an audience that didn’t seem to really care one bit.
Thankfully the air of arrogance was dispelled by headliners Jade Assembly, who entered like a hurricane and instantly blew away an audience of “Jade Army” chanting lunatics. If glasses weren’t raised in a toast to their sound, then fists were. The band tore through their grunge influenced brand of indie-rock and created an atmosphere of utter chaos with songs that shook the foundations of the venue. But it wasn’t all full force brutality – there were also more temperate tracks for the crowd to sway to, and the euphoniouly melodic singing of vocalist, John Foster, also tossed into the mix. This versatility gave the set a healthy array of emotions that ranged from anger, sadness, and a surprising amount of upbeat happy for a band with such a dark streak running through their sound. Jade Assembly ended with their new single Colossal, which all the proceeds from will go to Oxfam, but even this wasn’t enough to slay the demonic audience who continued to scream their football chat interpretation over the background music long after the band had left the stage.
The show was over but the night was still young. Outside was a rented double decker bus that was heading to an after show party in the band’s home town of Bolton. I decided to join and was treated to just under an hour of maniacal Jade Assembly fans singing full blast a range of classics which included Queen’s greatest hits, Sinatra’s New York, New York (which, admittedly, I started off), and, of course, The Wheels On The Bus …..
Lofthouse are on Facebook.
Freerunner are on Facebook.
All words by Ian Critchley. More writing by Ian on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive..