17th June 2019
Madonnatron are the hidden treasure of Trashmouth Records. Having just released their second album, they are now touring the UK. Rhys Delany was present for their Manchester show.
Leather Party are tonight’s opening act. Being a local band, they receive a warm reaction. Their brief set is littered with effortlessly dirty riffs, making them fall somewhere between Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, but not as shit as that comparison would have you think. The last time I saw Leather Party was at the tail end of 2018, sometime after the release of their single, Sinnerman. At that show they were a minimal synth and bass duo, whereas tonight a drummer has been added to the line-up, giving them a rockier edge. Perhaps the band is testing what works best, but in my opinion, the minimal setup was better.
As a testament to the heat generated from their most recent album, the fire alarm rings out as Madonnatron begin to take to the stage. Everyone looks confused, not sure whether to evacuate. The issue is promptly dealt with as the room descends into darkness.
The set consists of a varied mix from both first and second album. Notably, Headless Children and Sangue Neuf from their 2017 debut, still sound as fresh as ever. From the new album, Musica Alla Puttanesca, we hear Sweet Serena, Superhands and Liminal, in their riff-heavy psych glory.
There are, however, some weaker moments of the night. As the band have recently started to add more synth to their music I’ve been interested to see how this would translate live. While it does work wonders on tracks such as Sweet Serena, it is easy to see where it intrudes rather than improves on songs such as Flesh Pond. To be fair, I do not blame the talent of the band for this, but rather an inconsistent mix in the whole set. I assume it must be a difficult job to control the sound levels of four vocalists, and a myriad of instruments in such a small setting. But there are moments where unbearable feedback simply drown out any vocal at all.
Madonnatron often feels like an overlooked treasure of Trashmouth Records, a record label that has birthed Fat White Family, Meatraffle and Warmduscher. It‘s good to see how regular radio play of recent singles Goodnight Little Empire and Sucker Punch have helped improve the band’s notoriety. I’ve seen Madonnatron a handful of times now, and there is a reason I keep coming back. The development from their debut to their second album has been subtle, yet strong. It’s sad to say that tonight was not an accurate example of what the band can be.