March 6th 2012
The gothic gloom of Manchester’s cathedral is the perfect backdrop for Lambchop’s rich and dark melancholy, a dark melancholy that has only increased through the years since their 2002 breakthrough ‘Nixon’ album. Their current release, ‘Mr M’ is steeped in that empty landscape of eternal sadness that is the heartland of America, those big spaces were big thoughts fill your head, the tumbleweed heartbreak of the real America.
Inspired by the sad death of Lambchop’s mailman Kurt Wagner’s musician friend Vic Chesnutt the songs are steeped in introspection and emotion and a heart on it’s sleeve honesty that drips through the ten minute long pieces.
Some say that this new deeper introspection is to their detriment but sat here to tonight lost in the amazing sound that the crack band play you know that this is a band at their very best, defying all the rules of rock and moving in their own direction. In a week where I’ve had my ears battered by great gigs from Rammstein and the Stranglers there is something quite brilliant about listening to music that works for all the opposite reasons with Lambchop’s languid stage presence matching the music’s naked ambition.
They still work that rich seam of great American music from those country twists, those soul flavours, the powerhouse of great musics that combine with the power of the deep, dark ballad all stretched taut and into perfection. This is one of those gigs where you shut your eyes and float away with the music, hooked to the great soundscape and Wagner’s mesmerising voice as he deals his slow burning stories of small town Americana and his own saddened soul.
It’s powerful and beautiful stuff and exquisitly played by a band who, when we chat with them later, are just as happy to talk about classic Black Flag gigs they went to in their youth or long lost Wolfgang Press singles- and that’s the cool twist of Lambchop- they may play this classic American music but it’s all sieved through a British punk and post punk sensibility- the idea that you cut the crap and get to the point but instead of doing it at breakneck speed they keep the tension by slowing everything down to a heartbeat and creating this wonderful music that is like the soundtrack to the greatest film you have never seen.