MTV Spanking Brand New Tour - Manchester Academy 1 - 9.11.06
Wolfmother / Forward Russia / Fields / The Maccabees

What started off at MTV's annual invasion into one city has now turned into a mammoth tour showcasing some of the best new bands around. Sure the impetus has changed a little, whereas last time MTV were in Manchester they showcased the likes of The Kooks, Editors, Mystery Jets, MIA and Lady Sovereign before most of the nation has heard of them, this time the tour focuses on some already established acts such as Wolfmother and Forward Russia along with two newbies in the form of Fields and The Maccabees.

Due to a succession of mishaps we end up missing The Maccabees by about 10 minutes, but if we would have seen them we have been filled with the brightest pop melodies we've heard in a long while. When Designer Magazine saw the Maccabees back at Leeds Festival they were one of the undisputed highlights of the festival, which makes it all the more of a shame that walk into to witness Fields - a band so terribly dire they must go down in history as one of the worst. Not to be confused with the Sunderland band Field Music who recently supported The Futureheards, Fields hail from the South with keyboard player and vocalist Thorunn from Iceland and a bassist who used to cut hair for the Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party. That's as interesting as it gets and the music is dull as ditchwater indie pop by numbers. Truly diabolical.

Long before Forward Russia started writing songs with actual titles instead of numbers and years before Dance To The Radio became the coolest label in the UK, Designer Magazine saw Forward Russia at the Roadhouse. Back then it was clear they were something special with their screamo meets post-rock sound that like the Automatic took from the likes of Jarcrew and McLusky. While The Automatic have gone down a total pop route, Forward Russia kept it pure and experimental and have built up the large fanbase tonight by touring their arses off. Despite only having one album behind them Forward Russia are still one of the most vital bands out there right now and tonight it makes as much sense playing to 2000 people as it did to 20 the first time we saw them. They may not have any intentions of becoming massive but with gigs like this its hard to imagine them having any choice in the matter.

Wolfmother have made one of the records of 2006 despite the fact it sounds like its actually from 1966, but we're still to be convinced by them on the live circuit. We're not sure what it is about when we see Wolfmother live, but we think it lies in the fact that the record gives something more than the sum of its influences whereas on stage they're trying self consciously to live up to the image of their forefathers. Still like Nic Armstrong they bring old music to a new generation and tonight they really do set everything up to make them stand above the explosion of sound that is Forward Russia before them.

Alex McCann
Photos: Kirsty Umback

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