Words by Wes Foster

I’ve never really been able to get into Can, where do you even begin with their work and output? But I’ve always had an enormous amount of respect for their place within music, and what they achieved – either in the original band or afterwards, and obviously Damo Suzuki’s reputation precedes him hugely, so seeing him at White Hotel was an absolute must: White Hotel provides a very special space for these sorts of gigs, which anywhere else would be nowhere near as intimate. Of course that’s before we even get to the supports of Yossarians and And Yet It Moves.

Yossarians are quite easily one of Manchester’s most impressive bands – their alternative rock, folk-esque sound is neatly honed and drilled to create one of the most spellbinding and compelling stage shows around, and it is especially impressive from a band that don’t seem to have gained much recognition yet (or at least what is deserving). Their songwriting is some of the strongest around, with the ability to write lyrics that are incredibly direct, yet don’t have the latent edge of simplicity that can sometimes accompany that. Through the expanded use of instruments – two kits and a violin or fiddle being the most notable exceptions from a classical band set up – a wall of sound is created, and this in turn puts together a texture that is incredibly impressive, and has depth.

And Yet It Moves travelled down from Glasgow on their latest tour, having been due to play at The Old Pint Pot tonight anyway, shifting to support Damo Suzuki instead. In a departure from what they already have released their set was somewhat more experimental, and lost some of the hallmarks, most notably Barclay’s guitar. Perhaps supporting isn’t quite their forte, because at previous gigs they’ve seemed much more at home with themselves, whereas here they were pushing against the crowd a little. Gone is the guitar from a lot of their set, replaced instead by a little bit of a scat style singing alongside the same heft they always occupied previously. It feels like they’re currently trying things out, but haven’t quite found their sound yet, having rescinded a little from what was Dale Barclay’s tried and tested as seen in previous tours.

Damo Suzuki didn’t come on until around midnight, and for the most part the set was close to an out of body experience. Everything flowed seamlessly from one part to the next, probably down to the absolute skill of his musicians, creating a set that felt fresh and incredibly collaborative, put together to only a loose framework. It’s always a shame in venues like this that the camera phone takes such pride of place amongst a skyline of heads, something that seems absolutely antithesis to the atmosphere of White Hotel – it is a special, undiscovered place which is all about the experience, and not really about the artist primarily. This also makes it feel like a fair few people are there to have seen him (and I’m probably as guilty of this as the next person) without knowing the music incredibly well, but also without really getting into it as a collaborative experience, which is what it is really about (something that I think may have contributed to AYIT’s set falling a little flat). Though it was a little of a slog, for those glimpses of transcendental moments seeing him and his band is well worth it, especially if it can be found somewhere as special and intimate as White Hotel.

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Damo Suzuki performed at The White Hotel on Friday 19th May, 2017.

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