When Sam Shepherd – aka Floating Points – released his debut LP Elaenia towards the end of last year, it came as a breath of fresh air.
Shepherd is able to take able to take a brand of electronica that so often leaves fans of live music cold and morph it into something more dexterous, injecting syncopated beats with jazz-fusion in a way that so few are able to master.
With that in mind, this upgraded show at Manchester’s 1,500-capacity Ritz comes as a hugely intriguing prospect.
Beyond the unrivalled prowess of Bonobo and the meticulous care given to the live arena by more recent upstarts like Werkha, there aren’t too many other artists around who are able to straddle the environment of the club and stage with ultimate success.
And to be honest, based on this particular showing, the jury may well still be out on Floating Points.
Reviews from pre-Christmas London shows and teasers from promoters spoke of a ten-piece band incorporating live strings and a brass section – but tonight we unfortunately get neither.
Shepherd is backed up by some more than able companions who undoubtedly reimagine Elaenia as best they can, but at times the set simply gets lost in the ether of such a large space.
As the band set out on the opening bars of ‘Sliouettes (I,II & II)’, they hold the audience’s gaze, but – from the spot we manage to cling to at the back of the sold out room at least – this doesn’t last for long.
Instead, our appreciation of the proceeding show is somewhat hampered by the constant buzz of chatter from a Friday night crowd who are perhaps hoping for something a little bigger – although some of them look as if they’ve simply taken a wrong turn on the way to All Bar One and arrived without the slightest intention of showing any interest.
That said, the raw materials of an encapsulating performer are certainly there. It would be too simplistic to suggest a string section and all the other trimmings can mark the difference between an engaging experience and something that just passes us by – but tonight Far Out unfortunately leaves having felt the former.
(Featured image by Camille Blake)