Live Review: Dutch Uncles with Fiction at Manchester Deaf Institute – 2nd December 2011

By on Friday, 16th December 2011 at 5:35 pm

I am a big believer in fate. If things are supposed to happen, the universe makes it so. This is also true of discovering new bands; some of my best band tips have come from friends who are as into music as I am, and I have often been grateful for the heads-up on emerging bands that I might not otherwise have given the time of day. I’m really glad this person turned me on to Dutch Uncles; otherwise, I might have gone on my merry way and never have heard of them at all. (Not like there is a ready audience for them in America. Yet.) Going back to the thinking behind fate, I planned out my trip to England quite a while before Now Wave announced this homecoming show of Dutch Uncles, so I was pleased I would be in Manchester when it took place. And as it turns out, this show at the Deaf Institute was one of the gig highlights of my year.

Fiction was the night’s support act. The London band known for their Ford car advert / radio hit single ‘Big Things’ (video below). This is interesting in itself because based on that song that also appeared on Kitsune Maison’s ’11: The Indie-Dance Issue’ issued this past spring (review here), you might think the band’s genre is vaguely tropical dance, as I had lumped them (admittedly incorrectly) with Friendly Fires. This is where you would be dead wrong, and you’d only realise you were wrong if you saw them live.

They are actually less stereotypical dance and more indie/alternative: the bouncy lightness is evident in another one of their singles ‘Parakeets’, and I’m really digging their utilisation of electronic drum pads and drums, both played in a standing position for maximum poundage. Instead of tropical dance, maybe they should be classed more as world music? It’s more Peter Gabriel / Talking Heads / free spirit than let’s get down and dirty on the dancefloor than I expected, and to be fair, this guise makes it all the more clearer why Now Wave booked them as Duncles’ opener. Further, Fiction’s falsettos reminded me of Wild Beasts, who Dutch Uncles had been touring with in the weeks earlier.

Now, to the main event: Dutch Uncles. I’ve read plenty of gig and festival reviews of them (including Coco’s at Underage and Martin’s at Constellations) and I was getting ready to be wowed. The sound system at Deaf was amazing but I’m owing this entirely to the band’s doing. Dutch Uncles’ album out on Memphis Industries this year, ‘Cadenza’ (review here), was chockfull of intricate melodies (review here) so I was expecting a tour de force. I most definitely got it.

As a bass player, I decided then and there I wanted to be Robin Richards when I grow up: most people that play bass stand pretty still when they’re onstage but he was in tune to the beat and was obviously having a great time. Drummer Andy Proudfoot was giving it his all, becoming quickly drenched in sweat after a few songs. Guitarists Pete Broadhead (who also doubled as a drum pad percussionist) and Sped rocked out hard as well, reminding of me of what Cheryl once said to me about the difficulty of photographing Guy Garvey (“he’s a rocker” [as in his sways his body back and forth on his heels]), except they were totally in the moment, banging on their guitars as if their lives depended on it. And what I can say about frontman Duncan Wallis except WOW. When he wasn’t playing the piano, he was going all out in spastic, crazy dance moves as he let his body succumb to the music. They played some new songs including ‘Dusty’ (video below), but for me, ‘Face in’ (reminding me of my writing on the single previously ) and ‘The Ink’ were my favourites of the gig. (I’ve got more videos on my YouTube channel if you’re interested.)

It was a night of sensory overload, of coloured lights and the feeling deep in my heart that I was witnessing something very special. The show was sold out and people who came in later said there were people queueing outside in the hopes of getting in. I spoke with several folks after the show – some famous, some not – and the consensus was that this was the best Dutch Uncles had ever been live. So I feel pretty honoured to have been present at this gig. Onward and upwards, Duncles!

After the cut: more photos and set list.

Dutch Uncles Set List:
Face In
Fester (new song)
The Ink
Dusty (new song)

Dutch Uncles Photos:

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3 Responses

[…] entirely unscientific list of the top 5 albums of 2011, with the opinion of one – our editor… Dutch Uncles live in Manchester Marple's proggiest, poppiest band brings their energetic show to t… 10 for 2012: #1 – Films of Colour The wait is over. What band is Tony Visconti giving props to […]

[…] first time I saw Fiction play live was supporting Marple’s Dutch Uncles at their 2011 hometown ‘Christmas’ show at Manchester Deaf Institute. Before then, it was unclear to me whether or not Fiction as the math […]

[…] and sweet tea iced lollies while visiting my new friends Fiction, people I’d not met before but I had seen perform in Manchester in December. They had discovered a shy Jimi Hendrix-themed busker playing in an alley. Bless. When we returned […]

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