Oceansize, This Town Needs Guns and mojoFURY

Academy 2, 11-13 Hotham Street
24th September 2010

Reviewed by Richard Lewis

mojoFURY, here ostensibly to plug their battering-ram debut single The Mann, deal in a heavier version of the loud-quiet dynamic pioneered by The Pixies, leavened out with poppier elements similar to fellow Northern Ireland noiseniks Ash. After their visceral roar has receded, This Town Needs Guns take to the stage. A band that clearly possesses self-deprecation in abundance, they apologise for their group’s moniker before even playing a song. Admittedly, if TV dramas are to be believed the band’s hometown of Oxford is more synonymous with country house murders rather than gun crime.

Opening with the same rapid-fire guitar arpeggios The Smiths specialised in, the band shift through a succession of ‘mainstream indie’ tracks, similar to Razorlight and The Kooks. What sets the group apart from this slight ‘indie-by-numbers’ tendency however is their musicianship. With guitar work more synonymous with metal bands, the group’s guitarist, presumably in thrall to Eddie Van Halen, embellishes many of the tracks with guitar tapping. Restrained enough not to let the soloing overwhelm proceedings, many of the songs powered by intricate, high capoed guitar lines are expertly navigated, sounding like a cleaner, softer version of Kirk Hammett’s work. Encouragingly, one of the best songs of the set, ‘Alfresco’ is introduced as a new track, indicating they’re on an upward curve.

In a similar vein to Metallica’s revered axeman, Oceansize (pictured), open their set with a cauterizing feedback groan before launching into a slow mid- 80s Metallica grind. Flanked by a highly impressive light show, the scope of their sound coupled with the flickering visuals gives the impression of attending an arena gig in a far smaller venue. Going for a full on shock-and-awe style opening, the five-piece remain almost completely hidden behind the wall of lights for the first two tracks.

Becoming visible by the third song, the group ease the barrage of ultra-volume to a poppier 30 Seconds to Mars-style pace. The keyboards, initially hard to pick out above the riffing gradually become clearer as the set progresses. Beginning with a slow Brian Eno-esque ambient wash, the longest track of the set, played roughly midway through allows the keys and the triggered loops room to breath. The heaviosity of the opening brace of tracks proves to be slightly misleading, as the band have a broader sound palate than mere stock metal riffs.

Almost approaching veteran status as their debut LP appeared in 2003, the Mancunians, despite their frequent forays into tuneful, commercial modern rock have stayed largely under the radar. The rapturous reception they receive tonight could possibly indicate they might well prefer it that way.

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