The Deaf Institute, Manchester, UKFebruary 10th 2017
By AJ Phink
Tonight The Deaf Institute is hosting is the launch for Mohawk Radio‘s latest EP, Shoot From The Hip, the band have toured relentlessly and built up an impressive following, this has resulted in tonight’s show being completely sold out, an even more impressive feat when you consider that Mohawk Radio have done everything on their own terms. The crowd for tonight’s sold out show is certainly an eclectic one, boasting an intriguing mix of everything from indie kids to old rockers, this diversity is reflected in the quartet of bands that are on display tonight, a line up that makes tonight as much a showcase for the thriving musical environment in the North West of the UK as it is an event to celebrate the release of Mohawk Radio‘s latest EP.
Tonight’s journey to catch Mohawk Radio at the Deaf Institute didn’t start well, gridlock near the venue means that I’m running late, when we finally reach the venue the combination of new Converse and a wet pavement leads to further drama, but ripped jeans are in fashion and a few more scars aren’t going to make much difference at my age. I dust myself down and finally limp into the venue to catch the tail end of the opening set by Katie Mac. From the brief snatch I manage to catch it’s clear she possess a soulful voice, one that is backed up by a quartet that channels the more introspective side of indie. As their final number builds to an impressive crescendo I find myself wishing we’d managed to get here earlier .
Ideal Forgery are next on the bill, they have an eclectic line up that includes violin and cello alongside the usual suspects of guitar and drums, after a mournful start they kick into some spirited indie rock that embraces the more melodic side of the folk punk scene, along with a hint of emo. For me the violin and cello brought an orchestral dimension to their sound, and it’s this that really separates them from the pack, Ideal Forgery are yet another local discovery that I can’t help but feel will be headed for bigger things, as there is no one else that sounds quite like them. The other factor that struck me about them is that their vocalist, Zak Heaney, peppers the gaps between songs with the word fuck as much as anyone I’ve ever seen.
Jess Kemp is tonight’s final support, she delivers accomplished indie fuelled power pop that is mixed with a dash of rock, as their cover of Fleetwood Mac is testimony to, but don’t let that put you off, she twists the old rock classic to her own purposes to give it a fresh lease of life. There is something about Jess Kemp that for some reason reminds me of the energy of bands such as The Muffs and Against Me!, albeit on one of their quieter days. Maybe this is beacuse Jess Kemp possesses a vocal delivery that contains the kind of emotive melodic growl that few possess and for me her set is further evidence of the North Wests healthy and burgeoning DIY scene.
The Deaf Institute is packed to capacity for tonight’s Mohawk Radio show, this is even more impressive when you consider this is a totally DIY affair, artists with a label backing frequently play this venue to smaller crowds, and its to their credit that they’ve achieved this on their own terms. Three quarters of Mohawk Radio take to the stage and kick things off before vocalist Mia Page joins them onstage and their set starts in earnest. Mohawk Radio deliver the kind of hard edged alt rock that, as good as they are on record, really is at it best when experienced live. Mohawk Radio channel the best of rock, and they are a rock band at their heart, but they channel this with a harder edged sensibility more akin to alt rock and grunge that gives them the kind of cross genre appeal that most bands would kill for.
Mia Page has a striking vocal delivery, when you couple this with a razor sharp band you inevitably have a winning formula. On Your Knees, the lead track from their latest EP, sounds even better live, Mia Page works the stage like she’s playing to an arena crowd, whilst the band provide a rock solid backing. Their set varies between their upbeat heavier numbers and the softer side of their material, whilst the studio versions of these tracks didn’t appeal to me as much, live they are transformed into crowd pleasing foot stompers. The whole set is delivered with a joyful zeal, and there’s something about this band that makes you feel they are destined for bigger venues and crowds.
Mohawk Radio were incredible tonight, the level of showmanship on display is normally reserved for bigger venues and established acts, as a result their impressive set passed by in a blur. I’ll be honest, as much as I liked the Shoot From The Hip EP I wasn’t expecting to enjoy tonight as much as I did, the unrestrained hedonism of their rock influences, combined with their alternative roots, makes for an irresistible combination, and I feel privileged to have caught Mohawk Radio at this sold out intimate show. It’s not often you see a band with this kind of stage presence in a venue of this size, and on the basis of tonight’s show I’d recommend that you to tune into Mohawk Radio as soon as you get the chance.
Katie Mac‘s Facebook page is here
Jess Kemp‘s Facebook page is located here
The Punk Site review of Mohawk Radio‘s Shoot From The Hip EP is here
Mohawk Radio‘s website, where you can order the Shoot From The Hip EP, is located here
Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images