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Doyle & The Fourfathers - Dry Bar Manchester - 25.11.11

Battling against the overpriced contrived festivity and faux foreign festive cheer of the Manchester German Markets, Designer Magazine hosted a gig of five quality bands on Friday Night at Dry Live.

Taking to the stage first were the combined forces of Kat Mullen and Dry Live frequenter Matthew Petit. A fine display of simply beautiful acousticism and amazing vocals, featuring the poignant ‘Numb’ and an opinion-changing cover of ‘Run’. Despite the general lack of love for the original, they managed to prove Batman’s theory that to conquer Snow Patrol, you must become Snow Patrol.

Next up were three-piece The Foe, who generated a truly impressive volume of noise considering their number. So much so, their seemingly bottomless repertoire had to be cut short. Sitting somewhere between a very happy Libertines and 60’s rock and roll, with occasional ventures into pop-punk territory. ‘New Hair’ was a set highlight, featuring some truly dark, dare I say it, Joy Division-esque bass lines.
 
The Room were next to play, and despite moments of distinctly Oasisy lyricism and a questionable sense of what counts as upbeat, with keyboard in tow, they delivered a brilliant set of retro Americana and Northern cool. ‘Magic Man’ was a combination of Streets style spoken word and hilariously absurd lyrics (rhyming ‘magic man’ with ‘hills in Japan’). Sounding like Guy Garvey doing a Mike Skinner, whilst the rest of the set was packed with instantly infectious riffs.

The penultimate band, High House played next, all 6 members looking like an incarnation of Arcade Fire. With perfect moments of Mumford/Marling a capella harmonies and a vast array of instruments. At one point, a companion (studying Maths A-Level) calculated a ratio of songs played to musical instruments utilised at an impressive 1:4. A quintessentially English, loveable folk outfit, from the brink of tweedom by immense talent and dazzling songs, such as the heartstring-tugging ‘Fault Lines’.

Finally it was headliner’s Doyle and The Fourfather’s slot. The BBC Radio 6 Music regulars are gathering quite a fan base of their politically angsty (think less Punk Rock leather, and more farmer chic, complete with sideburns, checked shirts and corduroy), highly articulate song writing. “Do you think that melancholy is a British property? It’s as British as The Queen” from ‘Nationally Anthemic’ could be a Morrissey lyric, and ‘When Will The Children Learn’ references novel The Remains Of The Day.

Musically, the band are undeniably indie guitar, yet surprising hints of Western theme tunes and (a very rained-on) The Beach Boys makes Doyle and The Fourfathers very interesting indeed. Set closer, Welcome to Austerity was an anomalously upbeat lament to public spending; so relevant that the free pin badge to compliment the song would fit in perfectly at Wednesdays pension cut rallies. A spontaneous encore followed, confirming that Doyle and the Fourfathers are doing something quite different, very well.

Another fine night of musical festivities, and all for less than the price of two mulled wines.

Words: Lucy Holt
Photo: Josh Kell

 



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