Sound Control, Manchester, UK13th March 2017
By AJ Phink
It seems that getting to gigs on time anywhere in central Manchester is becoming impossible, tonight’s surprise was that Oxford Rd, the main road through this side of town, is closed, meaning a hefty stroll through the roadworks is required to get to the venue, this was followed by a few problems on the door before we finally got into Sound Control. These delays meant that we only arrive in time to catch the tail end of Jekyll‘s set, the one song I do hear sounds promising and has me cursing the local council even more than usual. The sole number I’ve heard, and I accept this isn’t really a fair way to judge a band, reminds me of early Muse, before the self indulgence kicked in, I’m hopeful Jekyll will return to Manchester soon and I’ll be able to catch a full set.
Next up on the bill are Critics, this up and coming indie act have bought their twisted alt pop up north from London, there are elements of pretty much everything in their sound, the guitar hooks are huge, sinister keyboards underpin their sound and bring a distinct garagey undercurrent on the early stages of their set, an influence that sits happily alongside the dominant indie sensibilities. The material from the recent Spilt Milk EP sounds vibrant and lively, however, at the midway point their set develops a funkier feel that is a distinct shift away from the material that shone so brightly at the start, thankfully they return to more energetic indie fuelled finale for the close of their set.
Despite the fact the venue has run out of decent draught beer and it seems that everything is shut or awkward in Manchester tonight, things are looking up as tonight’s show has been moved to the main venue in Sound Control, a better experience than the cramped stage downstairs in the bar area, and one that is better suited to Vukovi‘s energy levels. Lets make no mistake why we’re here, Vukovi have just released what is guaranteed to be one of my favourite albums of the year, and the chance of seeing them play on my home turf early on in a tour that’s in support of their stunning debut full length is a temptation that means we have dragged our weary feet to our third gig in four days
Some bass heavy hip hop precedes Vukovi taking the stage, they arrive without fanfare and promptly launch into the lead single from their debut album, La Di Da, live they are even heavier and more urgent than they are on their debut album, something that I didn’t think would be possible. On stage their vocalist ,Janine Shilstone, is a captivating centerpoint, whether she’s applying snake hipped moves around the stage, bouncing like she’s possessed or taking the phones from people that are inevitably filming the show, something that will provide a few fans with some truly unique live footage. She is backed up by three powerhouses that provide a crunching high energy soundtrack for tonight’s show.
Tonight’s show was originally scheduled for the smaller venue, but a blown PA has seen them move into the larger venue, for me the venue where they rightfully belong, and I suspect they will soon be packing out larger venues than this. Vukovi provide a unique balance between Rage Against The Machine and the fuzzy punk soundtrack, even from ten feet back the intense bass riffs are vibrating my ribs and doing strange things to my internal organs. Make no mistake, they are a captivating blast of energy live, if they are coming to a venue anywhere near you then I’d recommend catching them live as they are the best live band I’ve seen so far this year, everything about their set was perfect and it has made the road closures and even the lack of decent beer distant memories.
I’ve never seen a singer embrace mobile phone technology like Janine Shilstone, from encouraging the crowd to light the stage via their phones, to taking them from unresisting members of the crowd and making unique fan footage, this is a band born of the modern age and embracing technology instead of moaning about it, something I’m all too guilty of myself. They leave the stage in a squall of feedback, of course the delirious crowd demand more and Vukovi duly return for two triumphant encores, ending with the frantic Boy George. This has been an unforgettable night, bands that are this good live don’t come along very often and Vukovi are a band you need to see live if you get the opportunity.
The Critics website can be found here
Jekyll‘s Facebook page is 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