Battle / Humanzi - Club Academy Manchester - 21.5.06

Punters can be fickle as tonight proves with a venue where the bands and street teamers virtually outnumber what can be no more than 25 punters who've chosen to miss "Everybody Hates Chris" and watch some live music in a why don't you stylee.

The last time Humanzi played Manchester it was supporting Dirty Pretty Things at a sold out Academy 2 show. Out of step with the current zeitgeist Humanzi are too hard for the fey indie boys and not emo or hardcore enough to be feted on by the rock scene. Essentially they're great for the fact that every single song sounds like The Stooges playing 2 Unlimited's "No Limits" ad infinitum. If that isn't a recommendation in itself then the fact that there's a vertically challenged bass player in their ranks who pulls off cool as f*ck poses and naturally as low as Peter Hook can sling his bass this guy can drop it even lower. It's raw, primal (maybe a little Primal Scream in their noisy krautrock electronica phase) and they remind us of Irelands version of the 60ft dolls. When these guys get some killer tunes amongst the noise clusterf*ck they could really be on to something. Now sing no no no no no...there's no limits!!!

Battle's last Manchester show sold out the 250 capacity Night & Day just over two months ago leaving many to tout them as that band destined to finally crossover after coming onto the scene in a riotous tour with Towers Of London last Summer. Whether it's Sunday night-itus or the fact that everyone of the Academy's is rammed to capacity for Dinosaur Jnr, Louie and
the jewish Eminem means that Battle may have won, ahem, the last Battle but are losing the war.

"Thanks for choosing us, there's four bands in the building. I think you made the right choice" says the curiously attractive slip of a man Jason Bavanandan after the single "Demons", which sounds like Bloc Party rodgering the back catalogue of Smiths and New Order. "Isobelle" is taut and wiry with riffs so sharp you could cut diamonds with them. Since your correspondent saw them last summer they've developed some interesting arrangements and off kilter Jazz rhythms which when mixed with My Bloody Valentine riffs and atmospherics is a killer move which makes them stand out from their contemporaries.

Whereas in the past the synths were used to create stunning elegiac pop, they now make DJ Shadow meets Roni Size drum & bass style odyssey called "First Time". "Tendency" although a pop song at heart when stripped apart contains kraftwerk synths, overblown guitar solos, jazzy bass lines and the fastest human drummer known to man. "Simple Things", a killers beating synth pop classic "All My Sorrow" a textured acoustic flavoured rocker that shows that Battle are growing up in public. "I Don't Mean It" with its intense brooding claustrophobia layer upon layer over a monotone base is genuinely affecting. If Phil Spector ditched the orchestra and replaced them with 20 guitars this is how it would sound.

Closing on next single "Children" which starts off with the line "if we were the only ones I would disappear" before launching into a series of philosophical statements about the human race.

Both bands tonight are a revelation and it would be a shame if they got overlooked in favour of bands easier to swallow.

Alex McCann

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