Gullivers, Manchester, UK3rd June 2017
By AJ Phink
The Creature Comfort, Manchester’s longest standing outsider psyche rockers, are playing Gullivers and have promised that they will be unveiling the songs that will form the core of their as yet untitled sophomore album. The Creature Comfort have been around almost as long as I’ve been attending punk and alternative shows, I first caught them supporting Crazyhead at the tail end of the eighties at the long lost Manchester International, so the chance to see them live showcasing new material is an opportunity that for the first time has kept me away from Manchester’s annual all day punk festival, North West Calling. Across the road from Gullivers the latest tribute to those that lost their lives on the 22nd May is taking shpae, far from causing fear and division the events of that day have united the city against hatred and terror in a positive way, and I can’t help but feel proud of the way my city has reacted.
Tonight the bands are punctuated by a play list curated by The Creature Comfort that encompasses everything that’s worth a damn in rock ‘n roll, garage and punk and this only adds to the feeling that tonight is going to be something special. First up tonight are London based Dreamherbs, as the name suggests they are from the psychedelic side of the street, they deliver the kind of charged psyche that channels Lemmy era Hawkwind and The 13th Floor Elevators, and makes you wish that you’d been born several decades earlier. Tonight’s psychedelic lighting only heightens the inherent mindwarping soundtrack that they deliver, and for me this London based trio channel an intense and lysergic tinged interpretation that owes as much to punk as it does to psychedelia. The no frills stripped down approach to their set means that the self indulgence that can accompany some psychedelia infused bands is not on the radar, this is the essence of the roots of punk rock and marks a stunning and intense opening to tonight’s show.
The Goa Express are from a little closer to home, albeit from a far flung corner of Greater Manchester, despite being a member down as one of their number is at a festival in Barcelona they deliver an energetic set of psyche that is tainted with the raw spirit of garage punk coupled with the energetic essence of indie rock. Whilst the early part of their set owed more to the bands that populated the Pebbles and Rubble compilations, later in their set they launched into material that owed more to the first wave of punk than to its predecessors, and it seems even the further most outposts of Manchester are developing their own unique soundtrack, and the result is that I’m left wanting to hear a lot more from The Goa Express. Even though this is a band in the fledgling stages of their evolution they are clearly a band deserving of your attention, and one I’m going to make a point of catching live when they have a headline show to accompany the launch of the debut EP later this year.
But the main event, and why everyone is here, is to hear what The Creature Comfort have in store for us with their eagerly anticipated new material. This was alleged to be Jose Luis Ortega‘s last concert with the band, but apparently this is not set in stone, and it appears the lead guitarist will thankfully remain a fixture of The Creature Comfort. From the off frontman Ben Le Jeune channels Iggy Pop and remains one of Manchester’s most idiosyncratic frontmen, their classic single, Sauce, arrives early in the set and it’s delivered with a raw punky quality that makes this crowd pleasing favourite sound even more vibrant than I’ve heard it delivered before. The Creature Comfort tonight sound like a band reborn, the new material coupled with the energised delivery of their back catalogue gives their set a vibrancy that I’ve not encountered before, and for a band I’ve seen a few times over the last few decades that is saying something.
The Creature Comfort are a band who’s time is long overdue and on the basis of tonight’s show the recognition that Manchester’s perennial outsiders deserve cannot be far away. The Creature Comfort have been ploughing their own individual furrow since before most of their audience were conceived and for a band to be producing new material of this quality after all this time is a tribute to their determination and originality. For me tonight signifies that The Creature Comfort‘s time may be coming as the new songs that were previewed ahead of the release of their sophomore album don’t indicate a band that are treading water, instead it suggests a new vitality to their songwriting that after almost three decades is an achievement few manage. The material from their critically acclaimed debut album is received with rapture, and these underground stalwarts have, to my ears, never sounded better than they have tonight.
They close with I Do Need You and as with everything tonight this song has never sounded better. If you aren’t familiar with The Creature Comfort then you need to rectify this as they are as much a part of Manchester’s musical heritage as the usual more well known suspects, but they’ve never compromised, and for me that is about as punk as it gets. Given that North West Calling, which is happening just across the city, features a number of headline bands trading on their former glories then I know that I’ve made the right decision tonight. The Creature Comfort are one of Manchester’s best hidden secrets and it’s no surprise that members of other Manchester luminaries, including Peter Hook And The Light, are present to bear witness to tonight’s triumphant set. The Creature Comfort remain a unique band that should finally be mentioned in Manchester’s musical folklore, it’s the least they deserve.
Dreamherbs Facebook page is here
The Goa Express‘s Facebook page is located here
The Creature Comfort‘s website can be found here
You can download The Creature Comfort‘s debut album for free here
Live photography is by Rich Pictures and their Facebook page is located here
You can click on any of Rich Pictures photos to view a slide show of the images