Live Review: DRINKS at The Deaf Institute in Manchester 2 April 2017

There’s nothing quite like a tour support picked specifically to compliment the headline band. In the case of Sunday evening’s DRINKS show at The Deaf Institute in Manchester, the support was particularly perfect in name alone – Snacks. A collaborative project including members of Sweet Baboo and Islet, it was also a matter of convenience as they ended up being the accompanying band to DRINKS, putting on their own show to kick off proceedings.

We were greeted with near darkness as we walked into the venue, save for low lights on an empty stage as a pulsating beat permeated throughout the room. People intermittently climbed on stage, pressed a few things here and tweaked things there. I really enjoyed the surrealness of this, with the various members of the seemingly improvised group leaving stage and returning to tinker with something throughout the hour before DRINKS arrived, leaving people unaware that a band was actually on (even though the noise was a good indicator…)
It was a Mighty Boosh-esque/Nathan Barley-ish vision, with electronics, odd drones, clinks, clanks and clockwork noises throughout.

It was around the 25 minute mark before they were all actually on stage together, leaving the question in the heads of those in attendance of when did they actually begin? This was certainly the impression I had, given the many conversations being had up in the bleachers at the back of the room. I don’t think people really realised what was happening, but the wall of noise was enough to see to them!

With stomachs suitably lined thanks to Snacks, its members returned to the stage along with Tim Presley and Cate Le Bon a.k.a. DRINKS, who received a genuinely warm reception on their arrival. With Manchester being not only the first night of tour but also only one of two shows in the UK before undertaking a small run of shows across Europe, the tag line of it being ‘An Evening With…’ really did fit this almost intimate affair.

Laying Down Rock’, the opener from their debut album ‘Hermits On Holiday’ made an appearance early into their set and with it a whiff of the 60’s. The bass of Stephen Black a.k.a. Sweet Baboo was LOUD, complimenting the jerking, off-centre guitar sound.
The frantic ‘Focus On The Street’ was enough to get a gang of people down the front getting stuck in with the groove, whilst the jarring beat and dual heart-racing vocals between Cate and Tim stabbed away. It’s around this time that the lad from Sweet Baboo stepped out of the shadows and took position at the front for some delicate ivory tinkling on an angelic number. It’s here he stayed for the next song too, but with much choppier keys as Tim picks up the bass on a brooding number and Cate howled “What’s on your mind?

Spontaneity and collaboration runs deep throughout the evening, partially biting them on the arse at one point in very humorous fashion as the drummer prematurely kicked in ‘Hermits On Holiday’. Tim was in the middle of speaking at this point and everyone on stage turned around to look at the unaware drummer, much to the amusement of both audience and band. Everything else is bob on, mind and the collective on stage fit so well together – Previously noted  by Cate and Tim coming together in DRINKS as two people but acting as “one mouth, one set of lungs, one mind and four legs”.

The last song of the evening is greeted by lots of negative murmuring, but Cate smoothed everything over by announcing that she will phone in sick for everyone for Monday morning. This is followed by a brain washed five minutes or so with a continuous, heart-pounding groove.

Thankfully, it wasn’t their last and the band were coaxed out from backstage for the unveiling of a new song. The new material from the evening is from a soon to be announced album, which is news to dance to for sure following their 2015 debut. A nice little nightcap for our evening with DRINKS.

It was nice to see Cate, Tim and the rest of the gang return to The Deaf Institute so soon following Cate’s double-shot headline last Christmas. Hopefully it won’t be too long before they’re back in Manchester under the same roof again, thrashing out their wicked blend of quirkiness.

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