Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK
3rd October 2016
Tonight is a return to the Deaf Institute, it seems that this venue, that is nestled on a side street in the heart of Manchester’s student district, is having a renaissance with the live acts that are visiting the city, and it’s easy the see why. The venue is a friendly intimate space on the third floor above the venues bar and club spaces, whilst it probably isn’t that popular with the roadies due to having to carry equipment up three flights of stairs, it is a unique venue that incorporates a seated area, balcony and decent sized dancefloor, and crucially for me a smoking area that doesn’t require the long walk downstairs. The sound is always spot on at this venue and it seems to foster a enthusiastic atmosphere amongst the crowd.
Tonight Nashville’s All Them Witches are making their second foray into the UK, but first up is Israel’s The Great Machine, they announce themselves in a distinctive Israeli accent “Good evening ladies and gentlemen… we are The Great Machine” and they burst into some seriously heavy and distorted garage, their sound can best be described if you try to imagine if Lemmy hadn’t forsaken acid prior to the formation of Motorhead. They deliver an intense and unique blend of garage, psychedelia and rock ‘n roll, there are few breaks in their set, heavy improvised jams link the songs and meld the set into an epic mind expanding dose of heavy psyche.
The Great Machine play everything at full tilt for maximum effect, it’s difficult to review a band like this with mentioning Hawkwind, there are definite parallels between The Great Machine‘s bass led compositions with their effects drenched guitar riffs and pounding drums and the Space Ritual album, the bass lines are hypnotic rumbles and you get the impression that there is an element of improvisation to their performance, I doubt that two of their performances are alike. The Great Machine are a relentless hard edged psychedelic jam and as such they make the perfect support for tonight’s concert, this is their first tour of the UK and judging by the crowd’s response I doubt it it’ll be their last.
The Great Machine are one of the friendliest and most down to earth bands I’ve met, they smoke and drink with the audience and it seems they would be willing to talk for hours about music, their experiences of the music scene in their native Israel and their brushes with the law. Their singer is insistent that he wants the t-shirt I’m wearing tonight and I end up swapping shirts with him, something that I’ve never done before at a concert. During All Them Witches set they are down the front with the crowd, they have boundless levels of energy and a genuine love of music that shone through in their set, their conversation and their love of the headlining act who requested The Great Machine as their support act.
Tonight the Deaf Institute is as packed as I’ve seen it and there is a distinct buzz amongst the crowd prior to the arrival of All Them Witches, they have developed a reputation as a live act and expectations amongst the crowd are running high. All Them Witches take the stage in understated fashion, sadly the start of the set is plagued by technical issues, the initial smokey bourbon drenched number is subject to a number of false starts, but happily the problems are eventually resolved and their set can begin in earnest, albeit with a stripped down guitar sound that has been thrust onto them for the evening. Where The Great Machine were an assault on your senses All Them Witches are in contrast a much subtler beast with a laid back southern character, but one which has no less of an impact.
This is not the first time All Them Witches have played Manchester, judging by the crowds reaction to them they have well and truly established themselves in the North West of the UK, they may be a long way from Tennessee but they appear relaxed and at home. Their blues influenced psyche is played with an intensity that belies the laid back nature of their music, requests are yelled from the crowd, including a request to have sex on the stage, which are all met with an easy going southern charm, this is a band that seems to encourage a strange level of devotion amongst their more committed fans. Their material ebbs and flows throughout the set, building in intensity and then easing back into mellower bluesy strains.
All Them Witches set is one that defies categorisation, they play a career spanning set, that is just shy of two hours long, that veers between psyche, blues and southern rock, this is far from the usual kind of band I see but they are certainly impressive live. All Them Witches roots may lie back in the past, but what they bring to the stage is a contemporary mix of psyche and blues that is played with a relaxed and easy going charm that just pulls you into their sound. If you have any love for garage, blues and pyschedelia then tonight’s two bands would be a near perfect package for you.
Photography is by Dean Unsworth and his Instagram account is located here, you can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
The Great Machine‘s Bandcamp is here and there Facebook account is here
All Them Witches website is here, their Bandcamp is here and their Facebook page is here