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LIVE: Hartheim - Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Far Out Magazine headed to Soup Kitchen in Manchester to catch a debut headline gig from a band that seem like they are the tip of someone new every single day.

Hartheim are a five-piece formed out of a city with great musical heritage, but this inaugral live set demonstrates a collage of influence from a much wider spectrum.

On the one hand, there are the cinematic chord changes and almost eerie way that their songs tend to build, then on the other there is a visceral explosion of post-rock that catches us off guard every now and again – a shift in power that is no mean feat.

Named after the Austrian venue for the Nazi euthanasia programme during the second world war, you can probably deduce for yourself that this is not exactly party music, but the immersion and intensity of the band’s live offering is truly impressive for a first show.

There is still a sense that this is a set under development, but what the quintet have put together in such a short space of time is admirably tight.

Hartheim have been able to count Mary-Anne Hobbs of BBC 6Music as a fan for quite some time now and they also managed to prick a few ears with an ambitious cover of Billie Holiday’s ‘Strange Fruit’.

At times the band swells to a six-piece with a couple of female guest vocalists. This adds an extra dimension to the band’s at times gothic persona and provides an interesting point of contrast to the baritone vocal of frontman Mike Emerson.

Highlights include early release ‘Yellow’ – which was the first track to catch the ear of Hobbs – and ‘Where Did Your Last Rose Die?’, which was unveiled by the band to be met with many an accolade earlier this year.

As the set comes to a close, there is unanimous applause from a modest but dedicated crowd who seem to walk away with a wry smile that they have got their first with this band. The way things are shaping up it looks like it shan’t be long until far larger venues come calling. Watch this space.

Patrick Davies