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65daysoftstatic, live in Manchester

Live Review

Venue: Manchester Cathedral

Celebrating the tenth anniversary of The Fall Of Math, the Sheffield quartet light up Manchester Cathedral.

The concept: Following on from their KOKO show earlier this year celebrating the tenth anniversary of their classic debut The Fall of Math, 65daysofstatic have elected to stage a northern leg in the sprawling Manchester Cathedral.

Less grand than some of its older cousins, its comparatively low ceiling and large footprint arguably make for a better live space, and in any case, the promise of a double setlist performance is enough to draw fans from far and wide - from Glasgow at least, and all of Europe in all likelihood, judging by conversations in the entry queue. 

The atmosphere: Opening the show, Ex-Easter Island Head's avant-garde guitar work is watched by a crowd of early arrivals to the left of the main stage in front of the choir stalls. Always an exciting prospect, their blend of percussive, drone-and-electronica art rock always carries better live, if only because hitting guitars with drumsticks and mallets is something of a spectacle. By the time 65 take the stage in the centre of the nave, the whole area - incidentally, claimed to be the widest Cathedral nave in England - is filled with thick smoke, and punters spill out beyond the first set of columns on both sides.

The performance: The first set comprises The Fall of Math in full, though it's not until part-way through the second track, Install A Beak In The Heart That Clucks Time In Arabic that the band fully click into their groove. Retreat! Retreat! is appropriately massive, though sadly, perhaps due to its position on the album, it feels as if it's given more of a muted reception as the audience haven't warmed up yet. This Cat Is A Landmine comes across every bit as furious as it should, setting heads banging around the front of the crowd, but all too soon the band are screaming into the pounding finale of Aren't We All Running?, and their first set is over. 

After a short interlude, the band return, playing all of their newest album Wild Light except for the track Blackspots. It's interesting, as one casual fan nearby notes aloud, how the band's sound has evolved from their capricious, scattershot and occasionally genius debut to something that's so coherent, yet infused with hidden depth and complexity that might elude the casual listener. Prisms' stop-start dynamics work well in the space, with natural reverb drawing out the sudden breaks, and the bass breakdown in Unmake The Wild Light hits Mogwai levels of extravagant noise. "Fuck the last ten years, here's to the next ten! Fight the fascists, and we'll be there with you, cheers everyone," exclaims guitarist Joe Shrewsbury, and the band are done with their second set.

Returning for an encore, 65 elect for album track Debutante from 2010's We Were Exploding Anyway, a relatively common feature in their live sets and undoubtedly one of the stand-out tracks of the night. "I love you!" a fan shouts during a quiet moment in the second encore song, fan-favourite Radio Protector from 2006's One Time For All Time. It's hard to tell if the band appreciate the interruption, or whether it's a case of (to take another song title from that record) 65 Doesn't Understand You. In any case, the track ascends to a stunning high, filling every inch of space in the venue, before crashing to a close, leaving the crowd to face sheet rain and a nasty bump back down to earth.

The verdict: 65daysofstatic's influence has been so great in contemporary instrumental rock that it's hard to objectively view such a performance; arguably popularising the term 'math rock' for a new generation they've also inspired groups from And So I Watch You From Afar to Maybeshewill - who after all would probably be named Maybe She Will otherwise. In short then, the night is a triumph, with the new album a potent reminder that the band are only now releasing their best material yet. 

Setlist:

First Set

Another Code Against the Gone

Install a Beak in the Heart That Clucks Time in Arabic

Retreat! Retreat!

Default This

I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood

The Fall of Math

This Cat Is a Landmine

The Last Home Recording

Hole

Fix the Sky a Little

Aren't We All Running?

Second Set

Heat Death Infinity Splitter (Wild Light)

Prisms (Wild Light)

The Undertow (Wild Light)

Sleepwalk City (Wild Light)

Unmake the Wild Light (Wild Light)

Taipei (Wild Light)

Safe Passage (Wild Light)

 

Encore

Debutante (We Were Exploding Anyway)

Radio Protector (One Time For All Time)

This fan video by ‘James.’ From YouTube captures some of the intensity of the night. Find out where you can catch them live next at 65daysofstatic.com.

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