LIVE: SLUG – Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Far Out headed to Soup Kitchen in Manchester’s Northern Quarter to catch the final night of former Field Music man Ian Black’s final night of his debut headline tour.

Black will have come to many readers’ attention because of his stint as bassist for the Sunderland-based indie darlings. But it would be misguided to think he parted with the band because of anything other than a thirst to do something a bit different.

That something different is SLUG, and Field Music founders David and Peter Brewis were so enthused with their former bandmate’s output that they even joined him on tour as part of his live band in support of debut album RIPE, out now on Memphis Industries.

Upon entering the usually dingy surrounding’s of Soup Kitchen’s basement venue, the band that we are greeted with on stage give off an altogether different vibe.

Black, the Brewis brothers and the rest of his band are head to toe in formal dinner-wear, topped off with bright red bow ties that work slightly strangely with the rockier numbers on the night, but intrigue and disorientation has always been the Field Music way.

An early highlight arrived in the shape of first single ‘Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic’ – a former Far Out Magazine Track of the Day. A kind of heartwarming sight can be found at the back of the room where BBC 6Music DJ Marc Riley – one of SLUG’s biggest advocates – can be seen bouncing along with glee.

It’s the vibrancy of SLUG’s output that really makes it an occasion. It’s like Black just doesn’t have the focus or desire to stick to one approach, but the result is a sonic melting pot that teases enlightens the ear with every track.

The undeniably catchy riff of ‘Greasy Mind’ has toes tapping throughout the sold out basement space, and the reception is rapturous considering this is the first time SLUG has hit the road proper.

It’s also touching to see how much pleasure David Brewis enjoys from taking a backseat and plying his trade on the keys, adding a backing vocal that helps create a beautifully layered kind of a show.

Whether it was intended from the start or not, the quintessentially Mancunian reception that SLUG has received – full of dry wit unbridled love – demands an encore. The band return and tear the roof off with a reprise of stand out track ‘Running to get Past Your Heart’.

Whether this project will continue in the same guise or whether it is a snapshot in time remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, the curtain closer on this tour has been one to remember for years.

Patrick Davies

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