Forward Russia - Manchester Academy 3 - 10.7.06

Harder than a stamp to the bollocks, a headbutt to the chest and more violent than Ronaldo walking unattended round England with a permanent twitch, Forward Russia pile drive each song into submission. Jagged shards of riffery get sent flying around the venue sending the pit into a frenzy of post-rock screamo that stomps all over the pop flourishes of the Automatic who they last toured with a few months back on the NME package tour.

With a manifesto more rigid than early Manics each band member are never seen without their exclamation mark t's, each song is number chronologically although they do deviate from such chronological strictness in the live shows allowing them to switch numbers quicker than Carol Vorderman can count them.

"15 pt.2" sees frontman Tom Woodhead shuffling like an indie jamiroquai, arms flailing trying to outdance Timberlake while the noise surrounds them. A  few seconds later he's dived into the pit of kids below and it's amazing looking around at our surroundings just how far removed they've become from the indie elite they started out with in the early days. Nowadays Forward Russia attract the sort of fans who otherwise would listen to anything from Test Icicles through to Panic! At The Disco. "16" messages with the template slowing things down to Mogwai proportions for a duet between the femme fatale on drums and Woodhead. a dual shot of "15 pt1" and "7", the latter the bands most conventional stab at writing a 3 minute radio song combines a "Rocks" style drum beat, Stranglers riff and singing as opposed to screaming.

Setting themselves up as spokesmen for the underground they send out mock warnings to those in the pit and joke at the fan in the Panic! At The Disco t-shirt, "next you'll be saying you like Men Women & Children".

Never ones to fit in with the zeitgeist Forward Russia a revelation everytime we see them and this must be the 10th time in just over a year. They're that bloody addictive!!!

Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback

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