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LIVE: The Wave Pictures - The Deaf Institute, Manchester

Far Out was once again lurking near the back somewhere within the esteemed surroundings of Manchester’s Deaf Institute on Friday to witness the return of one of the most criminally underrated bands around.

The Wave Pictures are a power trio in the true sense of the word. Their recent collaboration with Billy Childish has seen them amp things up a bit and the result is at times something that resembles a nerdier, slightly more round-stomached version of Led Zepp.

We hope that doesn’t sound like too much of a back-handed compliment. What we’re actually trying to say is that this Leicstershire outfit are technically some of the finest musicians in the UK right now.

But before David Tattersall and his band take to the stage, there is a chance to catch an epiphany of a set from local lads and former Unsigned Sunday recipients False Nines. We’re reliably informed that this is only the band’s second gig, with frontman George nursing a bit of a cold, but it’s so accomplished that we’re pretty sure they must be having us on. Plus the attendance at such an early stage of the evening is nothing short of eye-popping.

Their set meanders through angular, Field Music-esque pop, bass driven rock ‘n’ roll and pulsating krautrock without ever feeling forced. They bow out with ‘Call It Wrong’, the track that we featured last year and what the band are already describing as “their hit” after gaining some airplay from BBC 6Music stalwart Marc Riley. A blinding cameo show from a quartet Far Out will be busting a gut to catch at a headline show soon.

But then comes the time for the main event. The great thing about The Wave Pictures is that as they walk onto the stage, devoid of and image or pretence, it dawns on us that they are basically just three regular guys who just happen to ooze the kind of ridiculous natural talent that few others can boast.

Newer material such as recent single ‘Pea Green Coat’ goes down a storm, with Tattersall seeming to revel in the chance to shred it up a bit more during his solos. The Wave Pictures are genuinely the tightest bands we can remember seeing in what we perceive to be the distant past. And what’s more, as their career has progressed the live show has only become more vibrant.

There’s twee pop (most notably in the shape of ‘Now You Are Pregnant’ sung by drummer Jonny Helm), blues-infused rock ‘n’ roll, and everything in between. It’s almost like a kind of indie variety show, with the band even throwing in back-to-back covers of songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival, Daniel Johnston and Neil Young for good measure.

Beyond the music, both Tattersall and Helm come armed with an infectious wit. This is occasionally manifested by being a little harsh on the much more quiet bassist Franic Rozycki – who doubles as the band’s tour manager much to their amusement.

But it’s all fun and games and what The Wave Pictures are overall is a trio who know each others’ crafts inside out. The 90-minute set eventually descends into Tattersall simply inviting the audience to yell out requests, which results in them bringing out the magnificent ‘Yellow Roses’.

They then return for a fuzzed-up wig-out of an encore that tears the roof of the Deaf Institute. This one’s been an occasion we will not be forgetting in a hurry. Right on the money.

Patrick Davies