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Superkings - Dry Bar, Manchester, 9/11/2006

  by Emma Dawson

published: 10 / 11 / 2006

Superkings - Dry Bar, Manchester, 9/11/2006


After an evening of bland supports, new Pennyblackmusic writer Emma Dawson watches rising indie group the Superkings play a charismatic and powerfully intense set of songs at the Manchester Dry Bar

I’d heard good things on the Manchester music grapevine about two of the four bands on the bill – the headliners, Superkings and main support, Brides of Neptune, so I approached the gig with a greater sense of anticipation than is usually the case. However, reviewing so-called up-and-coming artists can often be a let-down, so I was wearing my sceptical head especially for the occasion. Thankfully, my fears were only half-realised, but more on that later. Baxter Trappe (not his real name, by the way) opened the evening with an interesting acoustic set. Baxter cut a gaunt shadow of a human being who looked akin to at worse, an Aids victim or, at best someone who’d just woken up from behind the drum kit and crawled onto his chair. Visual aesthetics aside, though, his songs were powerful and interesting, aided by both a strange falsetto delivery that gave them a haunting quality, and an above-average lyrical content. The less said about Fultons Point the better. Brits trying to be Americans is an unseemly sight at the best of times, but when all the band can muster is bland MOR Americana/R & B, then it’s doubly painful. Competent, but still utterly dreadful, Fultons Point should remain firmly on the pub circuit. And so to the first of my ‘recommended’ bands. Unfortunately, the ‘Hey, look! I can do ‘American’’ theme continued with Brides of Neptune. Things started brightly enough when I caught sight of a violin as the band took to the stage. But it was to be a false dawn. The question that sprung to my mind during the set was: Why have such an expressive instrument onstage if you’re going to do bugger all with it? Seriously, the violinist looked bored out of her mind playing rudimentary noodlings to what were decidedly average compositions. She was clearly there to add some female glamour, but little else. This ‘band’ is simply a vehicle for the lead singer – who clearly looks in the mirror each day and sees Jack Johnson – to croon his undoubtedly heartfelt, yet sadly mediocre songs. And so to the headline act, Superkings. Would they have the necessary to deliver us from the depths of blandness? The first thing to say about Superkings, and one that can rarely be said about many bands, is that the quieter, introspective moments are as equal in power and tension as those that precipitate when the members really let rip. Many acts shy away from allowing the audience the opportunity to shatter their world through impertinent conversation, preferring to continually fill the space to avoid the uncomfortable silence. However, Superkings seem to revel in exploiting the potential of the relationship and the audience responded in kind by giving it the room to breathe musically once it realised the strength of songwriting and performance on display. This is a band with a myriad of moods, splashed, daubed and stroked across a wide musical canvass. Mini-tragedies come alive within the intense, playful, and intriguing vignettes delivered through the warm, honest northern tones of the unassuming, yet charismatic lead singer; a welcome antidote to the ham-fisted affectations that had gone before. Add to this the crucial fact that they have some fantastic songs with beautifully constructed arrangements and immediate, clever, melodies, and you have a band that has the potential to go a long way. Definitely one to watch.

Visitor Comments:-
74 Posted By: Paul, on 02 Mar 2007
I bet Emma Dawson doesn't give us anymore nice reviews :(
73 Posted By: , on 01 Mar 2007
Heh... ignore my bass playing buddy, as he is a cock. To clarify, *yawn*, I wish I'd never said anything now... I didn't mean about you personally, Jack, I meant that on stage you look like a man so impressed with himself and his songs that it's possibly kinda tempting to review your band on the wrong side of nicely. I'm sure that offstage you're the picture of humility.
72 Posted By: Paul, on 01 Mar 2007
Please be aware that Dave's definition of 'unbearably smug', actually translates into anyone 'better looking' than him.
71 Posted By: jack johnson, on 26 Feb 2007
hi djw Everyone seems to have had their say on this so i may as well have mine.. as far as the review goes, i'm not responsible for other people's feelings on it, or what they may write. You seem to have passed personal judgement on me by saying i possess an "unbearably smug pressence".As you dont know me and i do not recall ever meeting you or your 'pressence' i'm at a loss to your conclusion.Perhaps the chords i played were too smug? or our songs? or maybe it was while our band quietly sat, stage front, and lent our support as you played your set, as did we, to a very small audience, or maybe it was just me, whichever, i do appologise.... This isnt the forum for expressing an uninformed opinion about me personaly, and is,i feel,unfair. I could do the same but that would also be unfair, and spineless... If you wish to respond, please do via our myspace, as i said, this isnt the place for it. jj,brides of neptune
70 Posted By: DJW SK, on 21 Feb 2007
Likely... I mean, it's not like anyone else ever undertakes that particular task, is it? Superkings: Lowering the interest value of internet message boards since 2003.
69 Posted By: Paul, on 21 Feb 2007
Interestingly, myself, Will, Cat and Pete all saw Fulton's Point. Perhaps you were trying to negotiate a parking space in Manchester.
68 Posted By: DJW Superkings, on 21 Feb 2007
heh As it happens all of us were present for both opening acts... a rarity, I'll admit, as we live all over the place. The singer was over on the left with a guitar and some kind of a wooly/beanie hat on, the violinist was in the middle, playing a reddy-coloured electric violin, the bass player was on the right (shaved head?), and the rather groovy looking drummer at the back had a wide-brimmed har on and smoked rollies all the way through the set. We didn't watch Fulton's Point, though, as we were packing up. I'm not trying to have an argument here at all... I thought BoN sounded good. The playing from all concerned was well thought out, tight and sounded intelligent and rehearsed. I'm only really trying to clarify what I see as some essential truths about the situation for anyone reading, which are that we didn't know the reviewer, and that when someone gets a good review from a site like this, it's usually because the reviewer actually liked them. We can't find other reviews of BoN on the internet, so I guess this one is particularly annoying for you guys. I assure you that the first 2 years of SK reviews were pretty wank... ride it, don't bitch, and for christ's sake be more likeable.
67 Posted By: DJW SK, on 21 Feb 2007
oops... apparently FP were on first that night. So I correct myself... we did only see Brides Of Neptune. However, that doesn't really alter the point of that last message. Also, where I have put "har", I obviously meant "hat"
66 Posted By: , on 20 Feb 2007
very well put superkings and i do agree, there is only one point i would like to raise, as you arrived at the venue after our set had finnished how would you know if anyone onstage was unbearably anything, smug or otherwise? as you said, hourses of courses
65 Posted By: DJW Superkings, on 18 Feb 2007
Well, I'd certainly never met this reviewer, as it happens. It doesn't actually follow that because we got a nice review from someone that reviewed you nastily that means we agree with him/her... I was pretty stunned at the one-sided-ness of that review, which treated you rather heavily, in a way. There were plenty of nice things that could have been said about your sound. However, I imagine your singer's almost unbearably smug presence on stage did kinda lend this reviewer to fall on the harsh side of reasonable. However, you know, you can assume that all criticism is some kind of personal attack and all nice reviews of other bands is a result of palm greasing and ass-kissing, but I'd suggest that in the long run, it'll just make you look and feel a bit silly in the end. We tend to look at our bad reviews and see if any of it makes sense as things to work on, or just that the reviewer doesn't really "get" what we're doing. In which case, we tend to leave it and move on, rather than sulk about it on internet forums. Horses for courses, I guess.
64 Posted By: Jimbo Brides , on 08 Feb 2007
Following the message posted by Fultons Point all I can really do is back up what has previously been said. The message is not only far mor articulate than I could wish to be in reply to Emma's review but also written with more grace than the review itself. I do get a feeling that the review my have some bias perhaps the reviewer and the Superkings have met in the past? Fultons Point played a brilliant set considering they were missing a bass player and making the most of a bad situation. I will admit that that evening in Dry bar was not the finest performance the Brides of Neptune have made but after waiting around for a headline band to turn up (which they didn't until 10 minutes before they played) before we could sound check in a basement with a all the creature comforts of a sewer for a couple of hours, we may have lost some of drive we needed to put in a good turn for the twelve or so people in the audience. No excuse I know because i'm quite aware that that is all part of playing a unsigned band. Obviously musical taste is a very personal thing but anyone with a real love for music knows that all modern rock and roll stems from american country and blues and trying to emulate elements of music that has shaped the world is surly not something anyone can be ashamed of. As for the Superkings who later tried to poach our bored looking violin player the less said the better. I'd love for Emma to come down and review us again sometime, the 9th of March at the roadhouse maybe? but I get the feeling we would never be seen in a goodlight. Thank God people have free will to decide what music they want to listen to, otherwise we'd be stuck listening to bands that have kissed the feet of the right reviewer for rest of eternity.
63 Posted By: The Emperors New Clothes, on 30 Nov 2006
As Miss Dawson has chosen to review our music, I think its only fair that I review her reviewing, and much more fairly.Having played as part of Fultons Point at the Dry Bar with half a band, i take exception to being reviewed by someone who's attempts at reviewing music are based around preconceived generalisations about who the band want to sound like. Miss Dawson's arrogant dismissal of the music as Brits who are wannabe Americans shows an alarming and disturbing shortsightedness. As someone who does not judge music on such puerile levels, i find Miss Dawsons comments embarrasing. She thought we were dreadful which is her opinion and I would not expect her to think otherwise after reading her review of the evening. Miss Dawson strikes me as the next NME writer(not a compliment), ticking off boxes of what British bands are SUPPOSED to sound like. I wonder what it was that ticked Americana box in her head...here after all was a singer with an acoustic guitar and without a whiny, heavily accented voice as is all the rage...must be American wannabes!!! Then a mandolin came out..AHA!! An AMERICAN instrument!! Its not though is it? It is used in Celtic and British folk music, but by now the boxes had been ticked....the music isnt all jerky and ragged guitars, therefore it can not possibly be British.We are British! Miss Dawson described the band as "competent but still dreadful"...I wish i could be as kind about her writing and musical knowledge. It is interesting to see how she described the previous act...."a human being who looked akin to at worse an Aids victim"...charming. Keep following the herd. Best Wishes....Those good ol' Fultons Point boys...YEEEE HAAA!

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