PLUS: Mojo Fury
O2 Islington Academy, London
9th December 2011
Words: Tom Willmott Photos: Emma Bowdidge
When you think about Manchester bands, the first ones that come to mind are Joy Division, The Smiths and Oasis. But what many people don’t know is that the city is also home to one of the best underground and criminally underrated rock acts of the past decade or so. Amplifier have been in existence for twelve years now, and despite the fact that they’ve made appearances at major festivals and received tons of critical praise for their latest record “The Octopus”, they’re still very much under the radar. This year saw the demise of their contemporaries and fellow Mancunians Oceansize, which sees them filling quite a big void there, aided no doubt by roping in Oceansize’s former guitarist Steve Durose for live duties.
First up we saw Northern Irish four piece Mojo Fury. Along with “The Octopus”, their debut “Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus” has been amongst the highlights of this year’s releases. As well as performing some tracks from that album e.g. “The Mann” and “We Should Just Run Away”, they also made room for some new material possibly for the next album. “El” and “Grounds” hinted at a more experimental pop direction, but also retained their signature sound which some might describe as very heavily influenced by Nine Inch Nails. The band expressed their gratitude to Amplifier for taking them on board, considering their difficulty in finding a band to support, given their eclectic sound!
By the time Amplifier hit the stage, there was still only a somewhat sparse crowd, who although very passionate in their welcome, could not fill the generous space of Islington Academy. However, that’s completely irrelevant to what happens on stage, where dressed in their familiar all-in-black with octopus logo, the band kicked off with “Forever and More”. Watching them live, it was great to hear grooves and melodies that haven’t been heard since the days of Soundgarden. With a typically Octopus-heavy setlist, they also made way for some of their older material, most notably “Motorhead” and “Strange Seas Of Thought”. Highlights came in the form of “Interglacial Spell” and the title track itself. For the majority of the set, the band maintained a silence in between songs, until the end when they explained to their disappointed fans that they had hoped for a longer set, but due to club night arrangements, had been cut short. Initially ending with “UFOs”, the reaction was so strong, they had time to fit in one more for an encore, which came in the form of old favourite “Airborne”.
Generally, they are a rewarding live act, and should not be missed if they were to tour again. Possibly, the event would have worked better in a smaller venue such as the Relentless Garage or The Underworld in Camden, but the main task was to deliver an eye catching performance, and that is definitely what they accomplished!