Night & Day Café
The Night & Day Café is a small music venue located opposite Piccadilly Records in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. A powerhouse of the local music scene, it has been graced by the likes of Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys and Manic Street Preachers. Most noteworthy in its history is perhaps the early stage it gave to the now stadium-filling Elbow. Frontman Guy Garvey once remarked that he used to give out Night & Day’s phone number as a proxy for the band’s because they were there more often than they were not. Today, Night & Day claims to host the next generation of rock royalty, and my first visit to review Man of Moon supported by Bloodhound did not disappoint.
Bloodhound opened the night. They’re a three-piece post-modern grunge band hailing from Hull. Frontman Max Lilley wore a khaki boiler suit with red trim, which alongside his thick shoulder-length hair provided a sleek aesthetic for their head-banging performance.
After introducing his bandmates to the crowd, Max jokingly added, “Anyone like Hull?”. A single punter replied, “I like the way out of it.” An interaction which became comedic when Max failed to understand the accent and clarification from a further Mancunian was of no help.
I had a hunch I had heard Bloodhound before on Radio 6 and a quick Google proved me right. Tom Robinson had given them the positive but perhaps not massively enthusiastic review that they “deliver what it says on the tin with style and assurance.”
I found their set captivating. There were clear influences from bands such as Drenge, Interpol and DIIV. But stylistically, with the help of some dirty riffs, they had diverged into their own unique sound.
It is impossible not to fall for a young passionate grunge band, especially one which boasts Max’s remarkable vocal range. The crowd were subdued, to be expected on a Tuesday night, but clearly very impressed by the performance. If you want to check them out yourself, I would recommend starting with ‘Praise’ from their debut album Fragile Skeleton.
Man of Moon
The stage was then set for the headline act, and the crowd began to thicken. Man of Moon’s performance was effortlessly cool and deeply hypnotic. The audience stood mesmerised from start to finish, barely talking or moving, entranced by the carefully planned journey of the set. The Scottish psychedelic duo are touring off the back of their debut album Dark Sea. A name inspired by the murky waters of Musselburgh, a town near Edinburgh where frontman Chris Bainbridge spent his formative years. Dark Sea captures the tidal beat of their sound and the noir atmosphere it creates – reminiscent of early 2000s metal. Recorded in Loch Fyne, the lyrics and ambience of the album’s tracks have been heavily influenced by Scotland’s striking landscape.
Chris, alongside drummer Michael Reid, have previously supported the likes of Twilight Sad, Boy Azooga, and Django Django. The release of Dark Sea had been much anticipated, but its delayed release (due to the pandemic) has stilted its impact. Man of Moon’s promise, however, has never gone unnoticed, with their debut single, ‘The Road’, being hailed by the New York Times as the best “from a UK band since ‘Ceremony’ by New Order”. Their set was immaculate – the suppressed vocals only adding to the intensity of the performance. The precision of Reid’s drumming was gripping, his transportational range of soft and energetic mastery gave not only the set but each individual song a clear progression; while the skilful use of reverberation and echo served to heighten the gruff edge of Chris’ Scottish voice – his accent more prominent than I had expected from their recordings.
The set was pure magnetic genius – the highlight being ‘Voices’ from their first EP (Medicine) released back in 2016. Chris wore a knock-off Fontaines D.C. t-shirt – I recognised it from being sold on the street outside the Academy a few weeks back. The earnestness with which he and Micheal stared at each other, almost motionless apart from their instruments, made me wonder quite how intense their intimate jamming sessions must be. Analogies for their sound are not easy to find, but I was reminded at times of the band White Lies and of krautrock. The use of cowbells, electronic percussion and synths cut through the drone of the guitar just enough to add a verge of acid house and a further layer of ferocity.
To get thoroughly lost in the evolution of their sound, it is best to see Man of Moon live; but you can also use headphones to submerge yourself in their sultry soundscape. The crowd were completely intoxicated by the performance, and the roar of appreciation at the end of the set was impressively loud for the size of the venue. For a song that combines their melodic charm and dark ambience, this review recommends you start with ‘Strangers’. For fans of Radiohead, definitely check out ‘Rust’. Both songs are featured on Man of Moon’s debut album Dark Sea, which is out now!