Thurston Moore Group: Gorilla, Manchester

Manchester’s Gorilla was full to capacity, with barely room to breathe, for the arrival of legend and former Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore. The temperature in this modest sized venue began to sore to unbearable levels, due to the sheer amount of assembled body heat, as the stage was graced by Thurston Moore and his support act Es.

From the moment Es arrived on stage you just knew they were going to be a credible and unique band. Not only because they had been deemed worthy of following the great Mr. Moore on tour but also because everything about their appearance and demeanor just oozed cool and independent. Their musical style was reminiscent of Chicks On Speed and Robots In Disguise, their lead singers vocals bore a striking similarity to those of Dee Plume. They blended moody electronica with post-punk vocals, bringing back memories of The Horrors first album. The capacity crowd seemed to be loving their raw and effortlessly cool performance, they clearly had a similar ethos to that of Sonic Youth and therefore proved to be the perfect warm up for the occasion.

Thurston Moore then graced the stage with his excellent group of musicians, comprising of Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley, My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Goodge and Nought guitarist James Sedwards. The group were touring to promote their latest album “Rock N Roll Consciousness” but they opened their set with the single “Cease Fire”. They played the album they are promoting with a few back-catalogue favourites thrown in for good measure. Normally a set that included so few tracks would leave you feeling short changed, but as each of their numbers are long, exploratory, journeys of creativity even a set that was half the length would have left you completely satisfied.

It was a set that highlighted the fact that Moore was clearly the creative driving force behind Sonic Youth. As with his former outfit, each song is drawn out and seems repetitive but under the surface there is a great deal of improvisation and variation. It seems as though Moore is experimenting with Brechtian Alienation, the breakdowns and improvisation are in danger of going on for far too long, risking the audience losing interest. This is, of course, intentional, Thurston knows exactly what he is doing as he teases the crowd to the limits of their patience before delivering a final, huge, dramatic payoff, making the whole process thoroughly worthwhile. This was most evident during the encore and especially when they performed “Ono Soul”. Each member of the bands’ frontline turned their backs to the crowd during a breakdown to stand in front of their amplifiers. What then followed was an incredibly avant-garde display of them experimenting with feedback manipulation. A truly gripping set, featuring highlights such as “Speak To The Wild” and “Aphrodite”, had the audience spellbound and ecstatic from start to finish.

Thurston Moore rounded off a perfect evening with a message of solidarity and hope for the people of Manchester. Only a matter of weeks after the terrible attack on Manchester Arena Mr. Moore encouraged the crowd to continue to attend gigs and that peace and love were the only way forward.

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