LIVE: Battles – Manchester Academy 2

After a few years away Battles have now returned with a bang in the shape of new album La Di Da Di, which sees them hit us with another enthralling arsenal of experimental rock ‘n’ roll delight.

Falling a member short just before the LP’s predecessor Gloss Drop seems to have done nothing to quash the New York band’s trademark vigour and meticulous tightness.

The bedrock of the whole operation is drummer John Stanier (who previously kept time for metallers, Helmet). He sits front-centre, bearing down on a crowd who range from standoffish chin-stokers to exuberant piss-heads, with a symbol high to his right that means he must stretch fully above him every time he wants to send a ripple around the school hall-like venue.

The trio complement each other perfectly and when they get into full flow – between the intervals of glitchy madness that act as the most woozy of full-stops – there is no holding them back.

An encapsulating rendition of new one ‘FF Bada’ proves that material from La Di Da Di can sit snuggly alongside stalwarts from Mirrored and Gloss Drop, but there are a couple of unfortunate technical hitches along the way, with Dave Konopka’s bass cutting out and Stanier’s ferocity proves a curse as well as a blessing when he finds himself in need of a replacement snare drum.

It matters not, however, as the crowd are treated to a sonic barrage that proves Battles to be a must-watch act in their reincarnated guise (minus Tyondai Braxton).

But just as the show looks like it is approaching an enthralling crescendo, disaster strikes in the shape of one particular braindead attention seeker who seems to think they are at a late 90s Oasis gig as they hurl a pint of lager towards the stage.

The incident dampens the atmosphere just as much as it soddens Ian Williams’ equipment during ‘Atlas’. A pretty frosty exchange then follows featuring a plea from Konopka to “find the piece of shit who did that on the way out”.

The reaction from the crowd shows that the vast majority are on the side of the band, although when a pocket of boos rears its ugly head it has to be said the set ends on a slightly sour note.

They continue and bow out with former Track of the Day ‘The Yabba’, leaving with nothing more than an appreciative wave to those who have behaved themselves.

It’s been a rocky evening but Battles remain a class act.

Patrick Davies

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