LIVE: POND – MANCHESTER ACADEMY 3

After kicking off our stint at Primavera last weekend with their set on the Pitchfork stage, we were so enthused by Pond that we felt it our duty to get the full picture and also make an appearance at their current UK mini tour.

This time the evening was set to be a much more intimate occasion, with the Aussie psych-rockers taking to the stage within the modest surroundings of Manchester’s Academy 3. But since frontman and guitarist Nick Allbrook left behind his role in Tame Impala last year, modesty is not a trait that has been mentioned too regularly in close connection with Pond.

Although they have yet to put a full-length album together with the consistency and dream-like fluidity of Allbrook’s second Tame Impala record ‘Lonerism’, at times Pond’s energy blows his former project out of the water with an arsenal of garage rock riffs that seem to arrive from nowhere.

The crowd at the Academy is noticeably vibrant, indicating the ability of the current psych revival to recapture the imaginations of some of those who were around first time, as well as a crop of younger listeners who look like they may well have given he GCSE revision a miss for the night.

The set is as much a showcase of new tracks from the band’s upcoming album Man, It Feels Like Space Again as it is a celebration of what has come before. There are a couple of omissions in the shape of trademark tracks like ‘Elegant Design’ and ‘Moth Wings’, but this is more testament to the strength of the unveiled material than anything else, as the atmosphere is red hot from start to finish.

An ever-growing pit down the front is perfectly receptive to Pond’s style of peaks and troughs that effortlessly switches from meandering psychedelia to squealing stadium rock. When Allbrook launches into the signature riff of frenzied single ‘Giant Tortoise’, it’s like being right back in Barcelona, the roof having been well and truly torn off the university venue.

People who probably don’t look old enough to have purchased the pints of flat lager in their hand opt to launch them back and forth across the venue, while those who can take the heat can be seen wielding items of clothing above their heads as opposed to nipping out for air – demonstrations of uncontainable excitement that only heighten when Allbrook begins clambering on the stage rigs.

Perhaps the most genius cover version Far Out has witnessed in recent times also comes to fruition when Pond take on a more gradual build with Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’. If you’ve ever wondered what it might have sounded like if the king of pop had formed a supergroup with Angus Young, Kevin Shields and Supertramp’s Rick Davies (and why wouldn’t you?), the result could well have been something a little like this. Spangly jackets, perfect harmonies and wall-shaking reverb really are a great way to perk up a Monday night.

Recent release ‘Colouring the Streets’ is a bit less surreal, but feels like it has already become a summer anthem. There are a few signs that the upcoming tracks might take a slightly more pragmatic approach than last year’s Hobo Rocket, but they are assimilated perfectly without taking away any of the gig’s high-octane trajectory.

Allbrook pays particular tribute to Manchester crowds, informing them they have done more than play their part on firing up Pond’s collection of turbo-charged rock ‘n’ roll than most others are able to muster.

The euphoria of ‘Xanman’ is enough to convert even the most casual of onlookers and cement Pond as an outfit that must be considered as a powerhouse of modern guitar music. The set ends with a huge jam-out that sees each member of the band react against each other, dragging the audience from pillar to post one last time before sending them home with a most enchanting ringing in their ears that will no doubt stick around for days to come.

Patrick Davies

 

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