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The Givers / Zulu Winter - Manchester Academy 3 - 9.11.11

“We’re not very good at playing it cool…”

The first thing that strikes you when in the presence of Zulu Winter, is the subtle ease of their quietly confident characters; the southern five-piece, who formed earlier this year, and have already been dubbed “the new Vaccines” – which seems like a logical comparison considering they are managed by the same label.

From the very first song, one is hypnotized by the un-ignorable, over-powering bass line, and paired with Doctor Who-look alike front man’s (who hit some impressive and ambitious pitches) heart breaking vocals fulfilled a magical time-honoured formula, and could be comparable to Foals Total Life Forever.

As well as their alternative guitar playing techniques – which included quite literally stroking the neck of the guitar – they built a rapport with their listeners, crediting their most enthusiastic supporters, which is rarely seen amongst most c’mon-can’t-you-see-I’m-too-cool-for-you musicians of the same standard. A highlight was their debut single Back to Front.

The Givers entered, or should one say tiptoed, around the cosy chaos of instruments on stage to a crowd that had thickened with a mixture of English, and dedicated American fans. The enthusiastically performed opener (which could be seen prior to the playing on a paper plate set list), and album title In Light was an incredible and promising performance. The symbols were knocked out of place on more than one occasion.

With more alternative guitar playing techniques, the core of the band, Bon Iver-loving front man, Taylor Guarisco exuded energy, and was consistently entertaining, with expressions which embodied a confused or excited Napoleon Dynamite, crossed between a dog with its head out the window (complete with tongue lolling out of mouth), and danced much like a member of the Masaai.

Other lead singer Tiffany “Tiff” Lamson – whose voice is reminiscent of She & Him’s Zooey Deschanel – contributed an impressive amount of endurance and vitality whilst doing her best to completely destroy her drumsticks. She played – not only the second set of drums on stage – but a ukulele, a xylophone, bells and a tambourine, as well as a selection of songs which were accompanied by a flute.

The Givers’ songs are truly original – which can only be said sincerely about were few artists – as well as completely unpredictable. Their songs are like a journey; listeners clutch tightly to the sides of a boat on a sea of turbulent tempo, and wild winds of whimsical, wonderful tunes.

They ended on a high with single (or prediction?) Up Up Up, after which their enthusiasm completely crushed the stage, to which they casually shrugged, and dismissed the mess. Ironically, they had to cancel one of their gigs earlier on this year because of the riots in Manchester, when they, tonight, were the ones causing one.

Words: Faye Baillie


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