DeLooze, The Witch Hunt, Factory Acts - Manchester Castle Hotel
A tremendous triple bill of female-fronted acts pitch up at The Castle Hotel in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Brought together by local promoters ShatterJapan and Red Balloon Music, it’s a taster for the Eclectica Project, a non-profit initiative designed to showcase and empower women in the music and performance industries, which launches this August 2-3 at Kraak.
Salford duo Factory Acts open the evening. In their words, they play ‘dark electro’. Spot on. They’re Matt on bass and Susan on keyboards and vocals. And boy, ‘vocals’ is an understatement – this is a voice that could swallow you whole. Think a young Siouxsie fronting early OMD and you start to get a flavour of their appealing aesthetic. Its heritage sources are obvious enough but they’re no tribute act: every beat has the ring of truth. You suspect that most of this crowd didn’t know them when they walked in but everyone gets it. Superb.
The Witch Hunt are now a three piece and the addition of drummer Steven confirms their early appeal. They were always a prospect – their first two self-released EPs an elegant display of sharp boy-girl harmonies, dual guitars and cool song craft. They’re properly characterful and each of their three releases to date, culminating in the recent Little Book of Hate EP has bettered the previous. They were a rock solid addition to the ‘Ones to watch’ list. And on this evidence, they’re an increasingly fearsome live act. By the time they unleash ‘Wild and Laughing’, Louisa Osborn’s commitment to performance is a revelation, as she abandons herself to the music, lost in its earthy tumult. They can play – like, really play and is that a rootsier base, a sliver of a swamp-blues, starting to emerge? Suits ‘em. They make friends tonight, exiting to warm applause.
DeLooze close the show. Ostensibly the solo guise of Stacey DeLooze, they’re a blast. First impressions are misleading: the guitarist has the look of a young James Hetfield, the drummer’s got that ‘extra in scary club in Gaspar Noé movie’ look going on. But they play with force and soul and their front woman has charisma in spades, pausing for breath after their first song: “I’m knackered already!” It’s all very goth-pop but the hooks are huge, the tunes memorable. With debut album Glass Army released the week after, you could be forgiven for not yet having caught up with them but this fiery half hour leaves little excuse for not exploring further. An excellent night, and an excellent conclusion.
Read more about Eclectica here.