Inspiral Carpets / Puressence - Manchester Apollo - 6.12.03

With three albums to their name and a loyal fanbase, it's surprising that Puressence are currently without a deal. Tonight showcasing their new guitarist after a warm up at the Lowry a few weeks earlier it seems the five piece have never sounded so good. The angelic voice of the lead singer is the most original and striking i've heard in a long time. They're broody and magnificently melodramatic. With pulsation bass lines and an overall intense, euphoric wall of sound the band play to their strengths with the epic "Standing In Your Shadow", "This Feeling" and end with the sublime "Sharpen Up The Knives".

A typically boozy laddish crowd await the return of the Inspiral Carpets at the Apollo after two sell out nights at the Academy earlier in the year. It's like Christmas has come early as the atmosphere is awash with sing a longs from the best bands of the Madchester era. The Inspirals have an extensive back catalogue and as ever the set list is jam packed with hits surfing on a wave of nostalgia. Tom Hingley's powerful voice is so commanding that we'd probably hear him if we were standing in the car park outside. The adopted Manc (he's originally from Cornwall) can sure carry a tune. "Joe", "Saturn 5", "She Comes In The Fall", and "I Want You" still sound like timeless classic singles.

The Inspirals turn cabaret when they play a couple of covers. "96 Tears" and a slowed down version of "Tainted Love" in the spirit of a Las Vegas lounge lizard in a sleazy night club mode. The unannounced, ambling on stage, Shaun Ryder eclipses the show riffing, improvising, even slipping in a few lines of "24 Hour Party People" into the bargain. He even stays to contribute backing vocals for the show stopping finale, the ultimate Inspirals anthem - "This Is How It Feels" - which the elated crowd sing in unison. What a storming way to end an emotional, jubilant party. This is probably the last we'll see of the Inspirals for a while as Tom Hingley returns to his other band The Lovers and Clint Boon continues his successful stint as a first class DJ. As a lasting memory of a Mancunian psychedelic groove collective, The Inspiral Carpets have raised our expectations yet again. Here's to the next reunion.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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