sat 13/08/2022

Protomartyr, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - post-punkers shake the room | reviews, news & interviews

Protomartyr, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - post-punkers shake the room

Protomartyr, Deaf Institute, Manchester review - post-punkers shake the room

The four-piece's gloomy and infectious post-punk grips the audience tight

The devils in their youth

Four albums in, Detroit’s Protomartyr have built up quite a following over the last five years. From the now-hard-to-find No Passion All Technique to Relatives in Descent, their lauded new album, Protomartyr’s precise post-punk has remained as thunderous as it is rich.

As part of their current European tour promoting the release of Relatives in Descent, the band have come to the Deaf Institute, one of Manchester’s coolest mid-size venues, to bathe us in its murky waters.

Oh Boland, the sole support band, sound like the musical child of the Modern Lovers and the Strokes. With insistent drums and a guitar so jangly, it’d make Orange Juice jealous, they flip from abrasive verses to poppy choruses with ease. Although good throughout, Oh Boland really come into their own during their freak-out-solos, with the writhing guitar’s normal twang replaced by something sounding more like a hurricane. 

Protomartyr then come to the stage, with its members as inconspicuous as its possible for rising rock stars to look. “My Children” starts them off, twisting its way through ethereal noises and muttered phrases until singer Joe Casey’s “Pass on! Pass on! Pass on! Pass on!” seems to lift the audience and band onto a hectic plane.

Part of their odd charm lies in the intensely uncomfortable soundscapes they build. “Up the Tower” is so tense in its chiming chords and unrelenting pulse that the eventual drop in tone and volume is quite stunning. Their songs are perfectly constructed, although that’s not to say the band sound mechanical - there’s a passion to their set which doesn’t let up, and transforms the almost-joyous “Don’t Go to Anacita” and “The Devil in His Youth” into punk powerhouses. Viciousness is brought to the fore, rather than the calmer confidence found in Relatives in Descent - Protomartyr live is a very different beast to what's presented on their albums.

The drums are super-tight; the bass like an earthquake; the single guitar impressive in both its noisiness and fragility. Casey himself is also phenomenal throughout. Just what makes his drawling and ranting so compelling is hard to pin down, but his power over the audience is undeniable. The men in the front row could hardly be more enthusiastic in their call for a “male plague” when spurred on by the red-faced, snarling, suit-wearing Casey.

The Agent Intellect’s “Why Does It Shake?” opens the encore and is eerily appropriate, given that the floor has barely stopped wobbling under dancing feet all night. They roll through it, before launching into final song “Scum, Rise!”, which I can’t help feeling is dedicated to the devoted rabble moshing in front of the band. The band leave, the lights come up, and all that remains is a stage littered with empty Carlsberg cans and the tired happiness of the crowd. Discord never sounded so good…


Just what makes Casey's drawling and ranting so compelling is hard to pin down but his power is undeniable


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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