The rumours are true – Oh Sees (formerly Thee Oh Sees) may just be the greatest band on earth.
Arriving at the Academy in Manchester about 20 minutes before show time, I was a bit surprised to see Oh Sees already getting stuck in, finishing off what sounded like a riff-tastic version of The Sonics classic ‘Have Love, Will Travel’ (which I’m guessing in hindsight was ‘Tidal Wave’). A slap on the wrist for missing the support (which I must admit, your honour, is a rarity). It begs the question though – how long had they been playing up to that point? As I soon came to realise throughout the mind-melting near two hours that followed, Oh Sees give off the impression that they could play forever and ever. Set times be damned, just stick them on something resembling a stage and they’ll pick up and play!
There’s a lot to love about Oh Sees, but that no fucking about, getting on with it attitude is certainly up there. No backdrop or nothing, just four dudes pushed toward the front of the stage, going ballistic for just shy of two hours. Flavour country.
Head honcho John Dwyer was, of course, leading the charge, rocking his standard Dennis The Menace outfit, complete with his invisible geetar high up his chest. Without saying a whole lot, there’s something about Dwyer that’s just instantly likeable and his is a most welcome stage presence. He’s backed up tonight by an ear-shredding rhythm section, with newcomer Paul Quattrone teaming up with Dan Rincon to form the gnarliest of drumming tag teams up on stage, looking tremendous when playing the same part in unison.
Regular big hitter ‘The Dream’ comes in early on and sounds just as chaotic and wig splitting as on record. At breakneck speed, the quartet get the audience going out of their minds, with no rest given as they shoot straight into new single ‘The Static God’. The relentless new single is taken from their impending new LP ‘Orc’, out August 25th on Castle Face Records, and is a big fat slice of scuzzy, glittering chaos. They ease back on the throttle somewhat for a breather toward the end, before thundering ahead at 100mph for the closing stretch.
With the release of The Static God and under a new moniker, Oh Sees described themselves as “Less ‘Thee’, but more of everything else”, but they jump back in the time machine for the final number of the night by bringing out former sticks man Mike Shoun. Setting up a third kit alongside the other two, it’s not long before six arms are wildly smashing out a heart-swelling rendition of ‘Contraption/Soul Desert’ from the band’s 2011 LP ‘Carrion Crawler/The Dream’.
An unreal performance, seemingly never ending and coming in at what I imagine was just shy of 20 minutes but felt like 5. Dwyer turned his back here and there to twiddle and tweak knobs like a mad scientist whilst the drumming circle locked into a hypnotising groove. A daft amount of tempo changes and ups and downs sent the captivated, hypnotised audience on an absolute thrill ride as the song careened on and on.
Greatest band on earth? Manchester certainly thought so. Come back soon, yeah?