LIVE: The Earlies - Band on the Wall, Manchester

Far Out headed to Band on the Wall in Manchester last night to catch a monumental return from a band who seem to breed ear-to-ear smiles from every audience member they greet.

The Earlies have been absent for about eight years now, but after a new EP surfaced this year it has once again become time for this 11-piece behemoth to bring their smorgasbord of influences back to the stage.

At the heart of the band’s material is a kind of neo-folk, psychedelic hybrid that is musically very British. However, their transatlantic make-up seems to add an extra dimension.

Ethereal samples and woozy soundscapes play the role of intro in many of the set’s numbers, and what seem like relatively simple structures when reduced to their bare bones are electrified and transported on a worldwide trip taking in motorik, psych, electronica, rock ‘n’ roll and soaring classical strings.

Frontman Brandon Carr flags up the outstanding ‘Bring It Back Again’ as a tongue-in-cheek catalyst for the whole reunion and they put in a rendition that does this significance proud – not that there is any particular track that trumps the rest given that the applause is universally rapturous throughout the night.

What often start out as very direct pop songs are enriched with gradual builds and a group  of infinitely talented instrumentalists, with a unique and versatile ability to switch their weapon of choice and head off in a completely different direction entirely.

There are members of The Earlies’ live set-up who have enjoyed quite a bit of success in their own right – for example Sara Lowes who is a celebrated solo artist or the brass section who have moonlighted with I Am Kloot in recent years – however, the effect just seems to hit you that much harder when they are all brought back together.

After the main set comes to an end with a sitar-laced 60s wig-out, it’s unthinkable that the band wouldn’t come back to treat such a committed crowd to an encore. Of course they duly deliver.

As the evening comes to a rip-roaring end there’s a feeling that something special has happened at Band on the Wall tonight. A triumphant comeback show amongst friends, family, and an army of devotees who know.

Patrick Davies