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LIVE: Viet Cong - The Deaf Institute, Manchester

After touting their debut release as one of Far Out’s must have albums last month, we thought it was about time we headed out to see if Viet Cong’s live show measured up to the hype.

Despite still being in the embryonic phase of the project, interest has certainly gathered pace already – a factor that is demonstrated by this one being a sold out show at Manchester’s Deaf Institute.

The set that follows is one full of vigour, power and an industrialism that frontman and bassist Matt Flegel admits takes much of its influence from bands who formed in Manchester.

“This is the city where most of the bands we rip off come from”, he jokes, before reiterating “And we don’t just say that everywhere, tonight it’s really true.”

Specifically, the angular art-rock of Howard Devoto’s Magazine is one immediate influence that comes to mind, whereas the abrasive indie sound of recent single ‘Silhouettes’ conjures up memories of Joy Division before they were Joy Division – aka Warsaw.

They seem like a quartet perfectly in sync with each other – something that is no doubt due to the fact that the Canadians had all performed with each other with other projects before Viet Cong, most notably Flegel and dummer Mike Wallace in noise-rock outfit Women.

To use some more modern reference points, Viet Cong can probably be found somewhere in between the sounds of Interpol and Toy. Flegel’s baritone vocal owes the most to Ian Curtis, but the North American twang brings it more in line with Paul Banks.

The packed-out venue is up for it from the off, with a pocket of long-haired head bangers down the front who are so exuberant that the photographers stood nearby are disgruntled at being unable to get a still opportunity for a couple of snaps.

Although horsepower runs through Viet Cong’s veins, a couple of the softer tracks fade into the ether in front of a crowd who are begging for unadulterated rock ‘n’ roll, but these are momentary lulls that never risk overshadowing a mesmirising show.

And they very much save the best until last, closing the set in the same way as their new album, with the eleven-minute wig-out that is ‘Death’.

Guitarist Danny Christiansen looks like he’s on a another planet entirely as he tears though this krautrock marathon as if it is his final act of life. It’s a sonic onslaught that is made all the more encapsulating by the band’s request to have the venue’s huge disco ball revolving during this one.

The night comes to a close with an earth-shattering wall of sound accompanied by swirling prism-style light. It’s fair to say next time around Viet Cong will be touching down somewhere a little more spacious than this.

Patrick Davies