Live review: TOY – Manchester Ritz

Following the bold proclamation of an acclaimed debut album, a string of highly praised festival performances and the release of earth-shattering new single ‘Join the Dots’, any speculation as to whether TOY were merely riding the neo-pyschadelica wave have been firmly shunned into a place darker than the bags beneath singer Tom Dougall’s eyes.

Although their early live shows of 2012 offered indefinite promise, launching a drawn-out, hazy assault on their audiences, it’s clear from the relentless bass and opening chimes of previous set closer ‘Kopter’,  that TOY are now a far more assured live prospect.

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‘Too Far Gone To Know’ is a solid statement of intent, providing thunderous, post-punk infused evidence that their second album (released on Heavenly 9th December) will be one worth waiting for. The eight hundred or so in the audience suitably sway, nod and glance at their shoes accordingly. The occasional pair of eyes flicker and close, as a wave of dreamy psyche haze warms the senses.  ‘Dead and Gone’ serves as a felicitous example of why TOY are so encapsulating on a suitably sized stage. It’s a frenetic, haunting affirmation of their signature ability to lay the gloomy foundations of a track, before gradually building it into a key-changing whirlwind of blistering, krautrock inspired noise.  The relentless reverb style guitars are at times unhinged, whilst Dougall dourly delivers his aloof lyricism with total conviction. All five members are entirely believable, showcasing a sense of devotion that’s instantly recognisable in their music.

The East Londoners launch straight into savagely titled new track ‘You Won’t Be Left The Same’ followed by a well received rendition of their debut single ‘Left Myself Behind’.  Curiously poppy track ‘Colours Running Out’ is played with more vigour than ever. It even hints at The Damned’s ‘Smash It Up’ at times, which is far from a bad thing.

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Many bands talk grandiosely of their plans to release an album every year, before drifting into obscurity for one reason or another. Thankfully, with the driving force that is Heavenly Records behind them, along with strong motivation that’s shone through from the beginning, it’s hard to see TOY drifting further than the vastly creative realms of their practise room. It seems little can prevent the band’s existence from being as joyously elongated as much of their music.

Punchy, psychedelic crowd pleaser ‘Motoring’ takes on a more radio friendly approach, but its hypnotic rhythm ensures that the room’s still spinning. Lyrically, ‘Heart Skips A Beat’ serves up some gut wrenching, melancholy lyrics that sit perfectly on a melodic bed of dynamism. “it’s easier to let it slide, and wake up when I’m in full flight” is followed by an almighty crescendo  of dreamy shoegaze perfection. It’s just a crying shame that the equally heart breaking ‘Lose My Way’ didn’t make the set list. A frenzied, full-length performance of ‘Join The Dots’ draws the set to a thunderous close, bringing TOY’s resolute wall of sound down with it. Rest assured though, it’ll be undoubtedly higher, darker and equally as daunting next time.

Joe Martin

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