Review: Vessels At The Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Art & Culture

In a way it’s a shame the phone signal seems to be lacking down in the murky depths of Manchester’s Soup Kitchen basement. If there were we might be able to answer the question posed- has anyone ever heard of, or seen, a three-way adaptor plug? 

Whether you’d call this quandary bonafide banter or not comes down to personal opinion, but this short, rather tech-y rhetoric between Vessels and the thick but not-too-cramped crowd speaks volumes about their musical trajectory. Evolving from a post-cum-math rock debut album into the glory of this year’s LP, The Great Distraction, which occupies a house-techno-electro realm, the five-piece from Leeds are nothing if not heavily involved in the kit that has allowed them to get to this point. To put all that another way, they clearly know their way around a synth or two. 

The brief dialogue also says a lot about who the band are- confident, themselves. There’s an integrity to this 90-minute set that you don’t often find. It’s a seamless meld of often solid, sometimes delicate, always intricate alt dance fare that nods more towards DJs on a deep but bouncy tip more than it does any live band that springs to mind. More so, it feels delivered with genuine passion and love, rather than a drive to be the biggest or most noticeable. Closing your eyes to drown in the wholly immersive sonics that rise and fall on a prog-edged peak and trough tip, it’s easy to forget these are musicians playing, rather than records being played, and there’s a sense those musicians wouldn’t really object to that thought. 

That may be the most cosmic sentence this writer has ever penned without serious chemical manipulation, but don’t expect any amends. Attempting to fully articulate the experience of Vessels live is as folly as name-checking individual tracks from the performance. So let’s leave it like this- someone’s stood on the side bench flailing around like 2AM, down the front there’s a scuzzy stomp-off taking place as rhythms emerge from ethereal moments that stop just short of what might put off those that demand heads down. Kicks veer off into stepping drums, the atmosphere smacks of peak weekend party hours. Only thoughts of work tomorrow stop us all properly going off. All eyes to the front, that lack of mobile distraction is no longer worth remembering. 


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