LIINES, Warm Widow & Danxia - Aatma, Manchester - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

LIINES, Warm Widow & Danxia - Aatma, Manchester

by Steve Rhodes Rating: Release Date:

It's a chilly Saturday evening and hidden down an alleyway on the edge of Manchester's Northern Quarter is Aatma (formerly known as Kraak), a gig and Arts venue where many an up-and-coming band have previously adorned the stage. Tonight we are greeted with three superb local bands that if there was any justice would be playing far bigger venues, as all three deliver fantastic, varied sets that enthral those lucky to see them tonight.

Warrington is not exactly known as a hot-bed of music but opener Danxia could be in line to change that. Though the venue's location may have been a bit too secretive by the time they appear on stage as only a sparse crowd greet their opening number, Danxia charm the ever-growing audience with a shimmering set of effects-driven guitar numbers, backing guitarist and singer Emma Bate-Nilsson's beguiling vocal. Beginning with dreamier tracks, such as 'Closer', that feel akin to Lowtide, Still Corners and a stripped-down Lightfoils, the set motors towards heavier sounds that teeter on the edge of Gala-era Lush territory and elements of Tame Impala or My Morning Jacket alt-psychedelia, evolving into an almost-homage to Mazzy Star by the set's closure.

I'd previously caught the very end of a Warm Widow set some 18 months previous, first on the bill supporting Prolapse at one of the very last gigs at the legendary Roadhouse, and it's testament to their performance then that despite not hearing them again in the interim I could remember, almost note-for-note, their glorious penultimate track tonight 'No One Lives Here' from back then. Opening though with the excellent 'Childless', the 3-piece produce a raucous noise, like (very) early Joy Division, Wire or the Tall Dwarves, infused with traces of The Dead C, or The Cramps on speed, that is dense and nihilistic, but very much in control. With Zak's bass and Lianne's complex and precision drumming in total sync, Martin's guitar and vocals are allowed the freedom to freak out at regular intervals, adding a sense of unpredictability to an exhilarating ride. It's 'No One Lives Here' though just constantly stays in the memory, propelled by a phenomenal hypnotic, ascending spiky bassline, pummelled drums, abrasive and atonal guitars and melodically shrieked vocals, a la McLusky, it's the highlight of an amazing set, full of intensity that connected perfectly with the hugely appreciative audience. A band I just want to see over and over again.

With an ever increasing profile, including support from Louder Than War and national exposure on Radio X and 6Music, Manchester's LIINES are very much on the edge of a much-deserved breakthrough and more than match Warm Widow's superb support, with an excellent, deeply-focussed and driven set that belies their fairly-short existence. Opener 'Shallow' leads the way showcasing Leila O'Sullivan's direct and forceful drumming and Steph Angel's spiky, roving bass, supporting Zoe McVeigh's caustic guitar and rasping vocals, heightened further with the sublime and accusatory 'Liar'. Intense and aggressive but deeply melodic, with post-punk sensibilities and a hint of the Au-Pairs and US hardcore, there's barely enough time to breathe as each track barely breaks the two-minute barrier, pummelling its way into your brain. As demonstrated by the rhythmic connection, bordering on the manic, of the audience, especially during 'Cold' and the frenetic 'Disappear' and the rapturous applause that greets the end of every catchy as hell track. An intoxicating performance topped with fan favourite 'Never There' and encore 'Yes Again' bringing proceedings to a stunning close.

With LIINES you're not going to get prog time-signatures, fancy loops or extended wig-outs. This is rock through and through, enthusiastically and professionally belted out with edginess and passion, a triumph that lingers long beyond its closing notes.

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