Fuel in Withington has been putting on gigs for sometime now. A vegetarian cafe by day and a bar and a performance space by evening. My friend eat here shortly before I arrived and couldn’t praise the food more. The gig space is upstairs and compact above the bar area, with importantly, a good small P.A.
Both bands tonight have been playing Manchester and beyond now for over a year and both have critically acclaimed self released E.P.’s out, and it won’t be long before both get national recognition.
Mount fabric are the more conventional sounding of the two, their sound is somewhere between Radiohead (don’t let that put you off, they’re much, much better) and I guess early experimental Simple Minds (when they were weird!), although I heard Muse mentioned too. The sound is led by guitar player Joel who plays some great lead lines, also augmenting the sound with the aid of an oscillator strapped to his guitar.
Their drummer Ryan, pounds his kit hard like his life depends on it, changing his sticks for furry ones at times. The line up is completed by Liz on keyboards and laptop, Duncan on bass and the memorizing Alex on haunting vocals and additional guitar. They open with the instrumental “Interloping” with its staccato keyboard line underpinning the song. At times they also sound a little prog (no longer a dirty word to use in Manchester!), most notably on ” The Lightning Fork ” which has some amazing guitar playing from guitarist Joel which will make you watch him open mouthed. The other outstanding song of the set is closer “Curves and Corners”Â with its hard pounding drum beat, intricate guitar work, and fragile lyrics from singer Alex. Next stop for Mount Fabric is America where they have a short tour at the end of March.
The Narrows don’t have a drummer, but they do however have a smoke machine and a laser, in a small cafe bar, they are of course mental! Anyone who has kept up with their internet campaign to publicize the band will already know this. Their sound is pretty reminiscent of Mute Records acts Echoboy & Appliance. Which, is off kilter electronica, overlayed by the duelling guitars of Adam Hynes & Dave Battle.
Lead singer and keyboard player Phil Drinkwater comes across as a slightly less scary Droog from “A Clockwork Orange”Â, often darting away from his keyboards for no apparent reason at any opportunity. The set starts with both sides of their recent single “Able Danger”Â. B-side of which, “I Am The Last One Here”Â does contain the best opening line of a song I’ve heard in years “He’d fuck his own reflection. . . given half a chance”. They continue with “Initials M.M.”Â another recent single, much loved by Tom Robinson of 6 Music, and climax with the haunting “German children”Â which ends in an almighty clash of guitars, keyboards and drum machine.
Big things are expected from both these bands, catch them in intimate venues while you still can.
The Narrows release an album due in April & have further live dates coming up