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LIVE: Manchester International Festival presents Hookworms

Considering the endless hours Hookworms’ previous two albums spent on the Far Out jukebox, it seems almost inexplicable that by the summer of 2017 they almost feel like a thing of nostalgia.

This is certainly not because of any kind of dating of the music, simply that they have been away for so long. In fact it’s been three years since their last proper release The Hum exhilerated our eardrums with the Leeds band’s unique brand of pulsating, almost techno-esque noise-rock.

However, the return of Manchester’s bi-annual showcase of premieres from across the world of the arts turned out to be the perfect platform for MJ and co to introduce the world to the fruits of their extended labours. There have been other concerns to consider of course, such as gainful employment to juggle and damage to equipment and facilities following the devastation of January 2016’s Yorkshire floods.

We arrive at the tipi-style pop-up venue with great anticipation, knowing little about the space where we will take it all in and the tunes that are about to be unveiled.

The brooding pop of Carla Del Forno is a great way to kick things off, suiting the pitch black darkness of the pavilion that greets us perfectly. After an interval spent accidentally bumping into fellow revellers, it’s time for the main event, with Hookworms arriving on stage to a backdrop of 3-D visuals comparable to what we’d normally expect at a Chemical Brothers gig.

And the music itself also turns out to have taken a slight swerve towards the realms of electronica. The first section of the set gets the blood pumping with a cluster of new tracks that bounce back and forth against the remarkably well maintained walls of the tipi. There’s everything from Kraftwerk, to Josh Wink, to Pet Shop Boys in there – with more than enough indication that their upcoming third album will be equally mind-blowing as its predecessors, while bringing a progressive edge that surely pronounces Hookworms as a force of undoubted longevity.

“When’s the album out?” shouts a particularly enthused audience member, before the band respond with a satisfying (yet almost frustratingly vague) call of “soon”. ‘On Leaving’ and ‘The Impasse’ are as much an onslaught to the senses as ever, confirming  – despite the new direction – the band have no intention of leaving behind their fuzzed-up reputation.

They leave the tent to rapturous applause, having treated us and their legion of Mancunian followers to a night full of pleasant surprises. Watch this space like a hawk.

Patrick Davies