Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Lambchop, Live at Manchester Cathedral (2012)

The thing that always struck me most when listening to a Lambchop record was the use of space and volume. Arrangements created by a dozen or so players sounded beautifully sparse yet richly detailed. And then there was Kurt Wagner's voice - plaintive, desert dry and frayed at the edges, almost cracking as he sang lyrics detailing the minutiae of the human condition.

The band has slimmed down to six members over the years but none of the drama has been toned down. Brushed drums, ghostly pedal steel and Wagner's own minimal guitar picking are all used to devastating effect. The volume is low, so much so that when a bottle falls to the floor mid-song it's clatter is clearly heard above the music. They mostly play material from the latest album Mr. M for around 45 minutes then begin revisiting earlier songs including 'Soaky in the Pooper' and 'My Blue Wave'. Kurt's voice is magnificent in the cavernous Manchester cathedral, it all sounds so gentle, so fragile.

But then the fireworks begin. 'Up With People' is played as an encore and the band suddenly take off after an hour and a half of quiet restraint. It's an exuberant, celebratory end to proceedings as the huge crowd go understandably nuts.

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