Fat White Family

27 February
Academy 2

I was apprehensive about this gig when I learnt it was at Academy 2. It’s been a while since I last saw them and a strong atmosphere seems harder to coax out in larger, very nondescript venues. They feel emptier, as if you could be anywhere in the world.

Fat Whites, in my opinion, are one of the most important bands to come out of the woodwork in the last few years – actually lyrically daring and with music that does what it wants. They, like a few others (probably most prominently Sleaford Mods), are not products of austerity, but do owe a little of their success to the anger boiling deep down in an unfortunately otherwise apathetic England.

A nicely balanced roster of songs filled their set, still heavily based on Champagne Holocaust with highlights like ‘Bomb Disneyland’ and the single ‘I Am Mark E Smith’. Saul comes across as pretty heavily influenced by Smith, judging by his crooning tone as he talks to the crowd and the way he moves across the stage (although it has to be said with more vigour) like he just doesn’t give a shit.

It was always going to be interesting to see how the tracks from Songs For Our Mothers would transfer to a live setting. The album isn’t quite as raucous and feels more settled, but testament to their absolute skill as musicians and strength as a band, they translate smoothly. The slowness of ‘Hits, Hits, Hits’ was a particular highlight, going from a state of slow togetherness to all-out pits within moments.

A second album is always the difficult one, but with the energy they still have live and music that feels ever surer of itself, Fat Whites are here to stay.

Wes Foster

Extra Love

26 February
Band On the Wall

The new material from Extra Love's album, Out Of The Dark, went down a storm at Band On The Wall. The band produced a high-energy, uplifting performance, characteristic of their live shows, to a packed and appreciative audience.

The full force of the ten-piece was felt in funky bass lines, blistering brass and buoyant keys, combining to make sure the dancefloor was a constant sea of moving bodies. Frontmen Angelos Gavriilidis and Kuntriranks kept the crowd hyped with their passionate delivery and positive vibes.

The audience showed their love with cheers, whoops and whistles, especially welcoming old favourites from the Big Man EP. '500 Years' was met with lots of blissed out grooving and 'Big Man' was definitely a highlight, with its pointed lyrics and a killer guitar solo from Phil Ratcliffe.













'Freedom' showcased the skills of the brass section and saw strong vocals from Gavriilidis. After cheering hungrily for an encore at the end of the set, the crowd went wild when the band returned with the bouncy 'Be Ready'. 'More Love', with its chorus of “Love, love, love,” summed up the atmosphere of the night.

The full-fat power of Extra Love was clearly felt and is a testament to the quality of music on Manchester’s local scene. If you get the chance to see Extra Love live, go and see them. It will get your feet dancing and you'll come out with a new zest for life.

Anna Tuck

Savages

22 February
Albert Hall

When they first began their slow rise to popularity, Savages were a massive breath of fresh air – all female, writing about serious issues and a hankering for feedback meant that they were almost immediately earmarked for great things. They’re not the heaviest band out there, nor the fastest, but they strike a balance between crafting music that plays well and says something.

While their first record, Silence Yourself, was a tour de force of style and ideas, this year’s Adore Life is still very good, but feels a little softer, a little flatter. The songs seem to have turned to safer ground than previously and, although they touch on philosophy very slightly, they read as pop songs, and don’t have the aggression. They’re well written and they work as tracks, but they just don’t feel like Savages. I suppose one of the main problems here is that they are still regarded as alternative, when really they aren’t actually very left of field.

Seeing them live feels partially the same. They feel exciting as performers and it isn’t that the passion isn’t there anymore – it visibly is – but it feels like it has lost some of the vehemence and spittle.

I last saw them live around three years ago, just after their first record came out, and it was impossible to take your eyes off them. They were utterly captivating, without really doing anything – they had the look, the music, the energy all rolled into one. Now there seems to be a want to be sexier and I can’t tell if that feels organic or not – like they were repressing something before or pushing something now.

All of that said, they are still better than most live bands – an utterly solid performance going through a fair few from both albums and finishing with the stunning 2014 ‘Fuckers’ single. They are by no means a bad band, but are a band who are frustratingly close to being utterly brilliant – like on ‘Words To The Blind’ (it’s a shame seeing them tour with Bo Ningen without any joint live ventures, though maybe that’s asking too much) – but just fall short.

Wes Foster

Background photos of Savages by Wes Foster.

Hannah Wants

19 February
Albert Hall

It turns out that What Hannah Wants is a sold out show. The giddily exuberant revellers at Albert Hall on Friday all obliged. In the Grade II-listed climes, the scene was set akin to the unmitigated hedonism of futuristic parties depicted in old sci-fi flicks; new age fun with a retro feel.

Mick Jagger once sang that “You can’t always get what you want,” but if you’re busting the groove-shaping building blocks of high-tempo house and bleeding beats into crescendos, then you can turn his pessimism on its head. And that’s what sets Hannah Wants apart from the crowd of DIY DJs whose skills and appeal she’s been bidding since the age of 17 to surpass – optimism washes over her assembled congregation, be it via steady, tinny percussion, womping metronomes or pulsing basslines.

Prior to her arrival, Bram Fidder dropped his beats in all the right places, then Radio 1 and 1Xtra’s Monki serenaded the swathes of sidestepping silhouettes with an assortment of old and new, from The Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)’ and ‘Free’ by Ultra Naté to Riton’s ‘Rinse & Repeat’ and ‘Ambience’ by Melé. There’s also time for her mix of Eats Everything’s ‘Dancing (Again!)’, which earns a repeat rendition in the subsequent set – a powerful display of beat manipulation by the tour’s eponymous headliner.

Even Hannah Wants’ trainers claim the gold award as she strides onto the stage, greeted by camera phones, raised instinctively like fireflies across a night sky. It’s the assured entrance of a confident exhibition of groove-worthy pop and dance classics. With a countdown of her trademark pistol fingers, we’re blasted into 90 minutes of musical marathon that feels like a sprint, supplemented on the right side of the garage and house tracks by ‘Flowers’ (Sweet Female Attitude), ‘Benediction’ (Hot Natured & Ali Love), ‘Freed From Desire’ (Gala), and a particularly rousing version of La Roux’s ‘In For The Kill’.

Her insertion of Daniel Bedingfield’s ‘Gotta Get Thru This’ may seem to carry with it an air of ennui, but Hannah Wants’ fluid jockeying was never either rushed or laboured across her four CDJs, and a medley of UK garage hits permeating her tubthumping beats saw punters romp through the final furlong.

Ian Pennington