Live Review: Cigarettes After Sex at The Deaf Institute in Manchester 23/11/2016

Review from Jack Brownbill

Review from Jack Brownbill

After steady word of mouth and a rise of hits on YouTube, Cigarettes After Sex (CAS) have managed to create an impact on the music industry, without even releasing an album. The romantic Brooklyn band (led by the unique, dulcet tones of Greg Gonzalez) managed to secure a record deal with Partisan Records after the upswell of people being drawn to their songs.

Their debut album will hit the UK in early 2017, with the buzz surrounding the band already building some considerable momentum. Tonight at The Deaf Institute, there is clear evidence of that. Homemade signs being held aloft, arms round the person next to you and most of their songs being sung back at them, it’s clear that CAS have already found a core set of fans in the UK, and that will only expect to grow with another set of UK shows early next year to coincide with the debut album.

Will CAS be a success? That’s probably too early to tell, but I would confidently say that they are well on their way to being just that. Though time will tell if the album can provide enough variety to bring in a bigger audience. There is no doubting the song writing abilities of Gonzalez – and he can certainly write an anthemic song that tugs at the heart.

Tonight’s gig has the makings of a classic. A new up and coming band with a tag that’s been buzzing for some time now. The critics like them and the figures speak for themselves – these guys are worth watching and checking out. I would be lying if I didn’t have some kind of preconception of how the gig would play out. Moody lights and ambience with a delicate atmosphere. I expected it to be one of those nights where you could hear the hustle and bustle of the city flying by outside, but inside the venue, something magic being made and only the lucky ones inside were invited.

It was a sold out gig, so in the first place, all the signs were there. However, I felt it just never reached those high expectations (albeit from me). Not knocking the songs, but I feel the crowd will have to take some of the blame in not playing their part in the whole set up of the gig. The few mutters from people beside me made me feel that there was a lot of noise affecting the flow of the music. That’s not to say everyone was speaking – it may have just been where I was stood, but it certainly affected my experience.

The problem with bands like CAS is that they can easily write an album full of songs that sound the same. At times, the gig threatened to be just that. Sure they have some killer songs in ‘Affection and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’ – two stand out tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in any coming of age indie flick , which I highly suspect that this band are being earmarked for something along those lines in the near future (think Grizzly Bear and Blue Valentine). And don’t get me wrong – I will be purchasing the album. I think it will be a great album to chuck on for those late Friday nights staying in, with the lights down low where I can lose myself in the music. But therein lies the problem. If it can’t be translated to the stage, in the same atmospheric way, it loses something. The intimacy created by CAS really can touch your soul. But there lies the problem. When it’s you and music, can a packed out room translate that same feeling?

I think if I had to summarise the show I simply would suggest that it left me thinking: nearly but not quite. But this is melancholy music aimed for the masses. Whether it will resonate with the audience, only time will tell.

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