LIVE: The Moonlandingz / Black Lips – The Ritz, Manchester
Far Out headed back to Manchester’s Whitworth Street for a live review of a triple header that culminated in The Moonlandingz playing by far their biggest headline show to date.
It’s been quite a year for the fictional surrealist super group, not only finding their niche, but nailing it with the woozy yet exhilarating Interplanetary Class Classics.
What seemed to have started as a quirky side project just over two years ago, has developed into a juggeranut of a live force – a sentiment that must surely be shared by Manchester fans who caught them at Gorilla and The White Hotel the last couple of times out.
However, filling a venue the size of The Ritz with such a strange brew is no mean feat – even with the Yoko Ono endorsement. With that in mind, it’s a support bill that could hardly be stronger featuring local favourites PINS and garage-punk stalwarts Black Lips.
The last time we caught the Atlanta four-piece was again within much more modest surroundings, at the nearby Sound Control, and to be honest it is pretty much impossible to create the same atmosphere at The Ritz. With a decade-and-a-half’s worth of material under their belts, they have a far greater arsenal to choose from than the night’s closers, with old favourites like ‘O Katrina!’ still getting an excitable crowd bouncing.
As was the case last time around, the venue soon becomes strewn with toilet roll, covering the crowd and the band at various points of the set. In all honesty, it’s slightly disappointing to discover this is an orchestrated effort as opposed to a couple of rowdy kids’ exuberance. We get the feeling this won’t go down as a classic Black Lips gig, but it’s raucous enough all the same.
After an admirably quick change around, The Moonlandingz arrive on stage, with suspense building as Far White Family’s Lias Saoudi – or Johnny Rocket as he must be correctly referred to in his secondary guise – hangs fire. Eventually he emerges, shrinking violet as ever, covered in bright red facepaint with his hair tied in two ponytails.
The front of the venue is clearly packed with those who have spent most of this year rinsing Interplanetary Class Classics, with the front few rows belting every word right back at Saoudi as he climbs up on the barrier. The glam rock stomp of ‘Black Hanz’ sets proceedings up perfectly for a huge version of breakthrough single ‘Sweet Saturn Mine’.
If we’re totally honest some of the lower octane moments of the set get a little lost in the midst of the step up in venue, with the occasionally muffled sound competing against a backdrop of chatter from the crowd, but overall it’s as typically visceral showing, marrying the frontman’s angst-ridden screams with an electro groove that for most wouldn’t work, but here somehow excels.
In a relatively short space of time, they’ve managed to develop a pretty eclectic set, with the soulful duet ‘The Strangle of Anna’ sticking out like a Phil Spector mega-hit for the post-apocalyptic generation. The Moonlandingz leave the stage without returning for an encore, but with their full throttle approach it would probably take the edge off if anything.