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(Credit: Amazing Snakeheads)


The Amazing Snakeheads live from Sound Control, Manchester

There’s been much turbulence with The Amazing Snakeheads and frontman Dale Barclay since last time we caught them on tour in Manchester, just a few months ago at the Roadhouse. A few weeks after that, the trio experienced what the sensationalists among us described as a ‘facebook meltdown’ and the upshot was an announcement that bassist William Coombe and drummer Jordan Hutchinson had jumped ship.

The latter has yet to return and now must watch Scott Duff perform in his place. However, after reconciliation, Coombe is back on board – a welcome sight as we enter Sound Control, given that his thudding bass lines were such an integral part of the live show last time around.

Despite still touring relatively small venues, the band seem to attract a hero’s welcome every time they step on stage – a factor that is quite impressive given their career’s tender years. One reason for this must surely be the kind of psychotic connection that Barclay has with his fans during sets.

The Glaswegian rockers kick off in confident style with new single ‘Can’t Let You Go’. The song was a Track of the Day and could perhaps be considered as presenting a slightly more thought-out approach than the unbridled rage of the tracks that populated their debut Amphetamine Ballads. But it provides an intriguing glimpse of what might come on record number two.

That’s certainly not to suggest that The Amazing Snakeheads have lost even an ounce of their trademark visceral energy though. It only takes until the second number ‘Here it Comes Again’ for Barclay to pass his mic stand into the crowd, launch himself over the barrier and play out most of the tune in the middle of the audience.

This creates a frenzy as the audience close in on the centre of the room in a kind of whirlpool effect. The venue’s staff look slightly unnerved, but it’s nothing compared to the riot they were greeted with when the Black Lips visited in August.

In Coombe’s absence, it was announced that multi-instrumentalist Andrew Pattie would take his place. Tonight he is still performing with the band, but can be seen contributing keyboard and synth from the sound booth at the back – a part that Barclay is quick to acknowledge with the crowd.

Duff takes the mantle for a couple of chilled out numbers that work perfectly well, but it is the brute force of ‘Where is My Knife’, that really send people wild. Barclay struts around the audience once again, rejoicing in their adulation and at one point placing an arm around us personally and howling “Are we fuckin’ havin’ it?” – the undeniable answer is yes.

Throughout all this Coombe and Duff keep time back on the stage, but there is a pocket down the front who appreciate that the bassist is much more than an auxiliary component. They’re delighted he’s back. “Shall we keep him?”, Barclay asks, to which resounding cheers reply.

An eerie keyboard interlude leads into a two-song encore that again relies on new material. Perfectly confident and vindicated by this decision, Barclay ends the show by surfing off into the pit. When we exit, he can still be seen celebrating with numerous fist clenches, embraces and approachable chit-chat. It’s fair to say everyone in the room has ‘had it’, but Barclay probably knew all too well that would be the case in the first place.

Patrick Davies