March 15th 2012
There is a fervent atmosphere in here tonight for the big Wu Lyf homecoming gig.
The band come on to out stretched arms and screams, it’s like watching an early Smiths gig and with the abundance of quiffs and Smiths T shirts in here tonight there is a connection being made that Wu Lyf may not have initially planned in their break from the past agenda. Perhaps, though, this gig is Wu Lyf coming home in more ways than one- coming home to Manchester and coming home to the Manchester music lineage that they bravely tried to deny- that suffocating past that all young groups get lumbered with and few transcend.
Now that they are big enough and have their own strong identity this doesnt matter, the band now exude a confidence and tightness of group that has hit first gear. Tonight they sound fantastic, the live sound is crystal clear and Ellary’s passion pours out of him. His tightly clenched fist is pummelling his heart, his eyes shut tight- it’s powerful stuff and great to be reminded of the power of music and a natural, very English frontman.
Ellary is a compelling singer, he has a sharp intelligence that sees him never satisfied with the mundanity of rock n roll, a determination to play the game by his own rules- onstage how charisma and his perfect sculpted quiff is already marking him out as a future icon, a future t shirt. The audience already know this and are in love singing along. Believing. Surfing on his open hearted passion.
The set is mostly culled from the album and the songs have grown even since this startling debut, the guitar playing is great- those African hi life styles licks give Wu Lyf an original sound, an original slant that is along way away from their love of Fugazi and Black Flag but retains those totemic groups intensity. The rhythm section is tribal funk with a minor key melancholia, it’s a highly effective combination giving Wu Lyf their own distinct flavour.
The songs always build, starting with a church organ drone and building subtly before exploding into the climax. Wu Lyf also do lots of screaming. It’s great to hear a band that screams. Not enough bands scream these days. It’s like the early Beatles with their screams of pure joy and excitement and the outpouring of emotion is just as effective all these years later.
There’s nothing better than a group at the top of its game, thrilled at its creative rush and Wu Lyf are at this point. The songs are greeted like old friends, mini classics that swoop and soar and fill the venue with their innate power. Ellary has one hand on the keyboard and the other on his heart and just lets go with a rush of intensity and emotion that is hypnotic.
Last week when we interviewed him he was worried about playing this gig, feeling that playing The Ritz was maybe contrary to the manifesto of his band, but Wu Lyf are so far out there compared to their comtompraries that they should not fear this process. The mainstream needs them and can’t poison them, music this pure and this impassioned is indestructible and Wu Lyf exit the stage triumphant with that manifesto intact and their music untainted and a gig that was a celebration of their unique musical world view.