Every time I see the sign below, as we approach the Northern Quarter in Manchester, I get that quiver of anticipation that brings memories of friends, old and new, great ale in great pubs, and of course live music in small intimate venues.
Enochian Theory are a small group with a big sound and their current album ‘Life…and all it Entails’ is currently on my most-played list with a terrific overall tone with layers of melodic invention carefully placed over some seriously heavy sections with the requisite growls (albeit few and far between and deftly introduced…).
Having the opportunity to see these guys at first hand was too good to miss and as the support group, they would be on at a comfortable mid-week time, so business,life, and all it entails could carry on. The headline group, The Enid, are not a band I am familiar with but suffice to say they were interesting, strange, maddeningly dramatic and worthy of further investigation. A highlight of this particular evening was meeting one of my Twitter friends, Nick Efford, with whom we seem to share a great deal of things in common. Nick is an Enid fan and knows them well so I would leave any further comments to him regarding their music and performance this evening as I couldn’t quite work it out ….
Back to the Theory !
The Ruby Lounge in Manchester is typical of the Northern Quarter subterranean venue with a gloomy street entrance leading down into a gloomy stairwell which leads into a gloomy bar area with a fairly gloomy stage section stuck over in one corner with barely enough room to swing the proverbial cat.
Intimate is the word – in fact so intimate I could reach over and take a shot of the set list on the speaker.
To my delight most of the set was from the wonderful ‘Life.. and all it Entails’ but I was unsure how they would transfer the ‘big’ sound of this album in such a small venue, particularly as they are just a threesome
Needless to say, the sound suffered somewhat and the guitar was a bit lost in a muddy mix, but they had a wonderful selection of backing tracks and loops from their intriguingly titled string section – The Lost Orchestra – which filled out the sound and gave the subtle texture that pervades the aforementioned album.
Ben Harris-Hayes on guitar, vocals and throat (!) is a humble and gracious performer, totally committed to his art and ever so slightly apologetic – an engaging character to watch as he switches pedals, adds sounds, sings and generally controls proceedings.
My eyes were drawn to Shaun Rayment on bass (you may recall I am a once God-like bass player in a band….) as I was interested to see if the sinuous bass lines on the album would be re-created live. No need for disappointment here – Shaun was incredibly focused and drove the songs on with terrific tight bass lines and worked the hell out of his fretboard – brilliant stuff.
Not being a drummer I can’t comment on the technical skills of Sam Street on drums but I was knocked for six when his double bass drums kicked in – the ferocity of some of the drumming counteracts the delicacy of much of their music and this apparent discrepancy is, I think, what gives them a unique sound..
I’m not going through each song here but suffice to say I was impressed with their live performance of what are complex and involving songs.
A thoroughly enjoyable set made even better by a brief chat with Ben after their set. I mentioned there was enthusiasm for him on Progarchy but he had not heard of ‘us’ but was delighted to know there are folk out there completely smitten with his work …….