MONEY @ Leaf Café, Liverpool: 11.06.13

Manchester’s most promising justify the hype live in Liverpool

Jun 13th, 2013 at Leaf, Liverpool / By Richard Lewis
MONEY @ Leaf Café, Liverpool: 11.06.13 Proof positive of the strength of the material bound for their second album By the Sea audaciously construct their entire support set to MONEY around as-yet unreleased tracks, the majority of which make their live debut.

In front of a crowd virtually the same size as the one later present for the headliners, the Wirral band’s immersion in prime-era shoegaze sits alongside excursions into the expansive sound minted by Ocean Rain-era Bunnymen.

Led by singer Liam Power’s Ian McCulloch-esque vox ‘Stranger Things’ piloted by a Peter Hook-esque bassline and Korg synth spine is a significant departure for the quintet, a tantilisingly pointer to where they may be headed next.

Concluding with ‘Endless Days’, the fastest track in the band’s catalogue, the rhythm section commanding a greater role, By the Sea’s exploration to the unmapped territories on their navigation charts continues to yield fantastic results.

Scooping the prize for the most memorable entrance onto the stage this year MONEY frontman Jamie Lee absolutely steals the plaudits. Well, that’s to say he doesn’t actually begin the performance on the stage. Walking from the back of the venue through the crowd, singing a cappella the entire time, the audience fall silent in rapt attention.

Stepping up on a table he continues to serenade the assembled, who watch in spellbound silence. Hopping down gracefully onto the venue floor, the singer works his way to the stage, as the rest of the band assemble and the show proper kicks into gear.

More akin to the beginning of a Jacobean play than a gig, dispensing with the stock lights/smoke/sonic assault usually preferred, with the opening soliloquy done with, what follows proves to be of equal worth as the intrigued crowd is rewarded with the lion’s share of imminent debut LP The Shadow of Heaven.

The band’s best known cut, ‘Who’s Gonna Love You Now’, evoking a teary incarnation of Talk Talk is boldly dispatched early on, gliding its way from the stage second in the set.

While traces of Arcade Fire can clearly be discerned, ‘So Long (GodisDead) points up a treasured influence, the alternately rippling/strafing surfaces created by (The) Verve on their psychedelic early works.

While Up Holland’s finest wandered into more pop-oriented pastures with their shorter tracks, the Mancunians stick to a more opaque formula, largely avoiding choruses but able to craft hooks that linger long in the memory.

As the quite frankly gorgeous slo-mo church bell peel of ‘Bluebell Fields’ demonstrates, MONEY are texturalists of the highest order, the three guitars working in tandem to create a sensuous wave of sound. Transferring the beatific rush of the band’s recordings to the stage proves no obstacle for the five players, bringing the same ebb and flow to ‘The Sea’ live as its studio-bound equivalent.

As a frontman Lee absolutely inhabits the role, a quixotic presence permanently restless, at one point hauling his mike stand down from the stage to sing eyeball to eyeball with the front row.

With the ongoing news agenda re. GCHQ, NSA et al and debate about how much information people volunteer to put online about themselves, the present group are unlikely to have any worries, as over two years since they first emerged, they remain resolutely low-key. That situation is likely to change however as people begin to flock to them, given the band’s recent hook-up with Bella Union.

After roughly forty minutes the vocalist signals the conclusion, jumping down from the stage and heading towards the dressing rooms, wrung out and seemingly dazed, leaving much of the audience in the same state.