Concert Review: Money For Rope @ The Castle Hotel – Manchester

Twelve months ago, Gary Clark Jr. delivered a devastatingly superb performance at The Academy Three in Manchester, standing out as one of the most exceptional shows in recent memory. Contributing to this remarkable concert that night in the support slot were Australians Money For Rope. This five-piece from Melbourne brought their energizing brand of hectic, psychedelic garage rock to an unsuspecting audience and their electrifying performance that night was forever seared into my memory. An eponymously titled debut album was released in 2012, quickly followed by their sophomore effort Been in the Wars and these records firmly established the band’s innate swagger that will hopefully catapult them in to the consciousness of discerning music fans across the globe. I have therefore been eager to see if the boys from Melbourne are really as good as they were that night, almost exactly a year ago. The chance finally arrives with the slot at The Castle Hotel in Manchester’s Northern Quarter tonight.

I was initially intrigued to see how the band would actually fit on the small Castle Hotel stage. A unique selling point of the group is their double-drumming setup, but the space manages to accommodate all the kit, still allowing front man Jules McKenzie and Rick Parnaby on keys in particular to turn on the afterburners, demonstrating an infectious fervour in their performance that energizes the whole room.

Twelve months ago I described McKenzie as possessing a “brash Jim Morrison-esque attitude” and tonight proves that this is certainly not an exaggerated description. Check out the records and close your eyes – Jules’ dynamic vocals certainly appear to possess the spirit of The Doors’ charismatic frontman and in the live context, Money For Rope’s expansive soundscapes suggest that the band have intentionally taken the exuberance of The Doors, especially the flamboyancy of Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison and mixed this with their own effervescent spirit and inventiveness. The effect this heady cocktail has is seriously intoxicating and this is certainly enhanced when it is projected in such intimate surroundings as this.

You’ll Be Gone’s vivacious rhythms ebb and flow and the song evolves in to a gloriously epic summer anthem, thrilling all with its injections of colour and industrious exuberance, which pervade through the dark confines of The Castle Hotel’s back room. The initially small crowd swells as the energy of the band entwines itself around the room, seeping into the pores of the lucky few who are present and it’s grip is intense and doesn’t let go.

The band are inventive in their sonic experimentation and amplified telephone receivers and saxophones on Since I Left add psychedelic textures which prove to be incredibly evocative in their presentation. The tireless drumming unit is faultless, relentless and indispensable, contributing a vital element to the pervasive energy which courses through the songs and in to the crowd. It is such a shame then when all to quickly the band draw things to a close in a fittingly rambunctious and uncurbed style. Keys sway dangerously as Rick Parnaby hammers on them and Erik Scerba pounds on the skins like his life depends on it, finally collapsing in a heap on the floor amongst the broken drum sticks and beer bottles. The show may be over but it has been a thrilling experience, confirming my belief when I saw them a year ago, that Money For Rope may just be one of the best live acts around today. Whatever you do, do not pass up the opportunity to see for yourself!

Follow updates from Money For Rope here.

Review by Iain Fox | @IainFoxPhoto

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