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LIVE: Werkha - The Deaf Institute, Manchester

One of the brightest new producers in the UK, Werkha, performed on home soil as part of a full-on extravaganza to celebrate the release of his debut LP Colours of a Red Brick Raft.

Joined by Frameworks and DJs from Manchester’s most vibrant clubnight – the Gilles Peterson-endorsed, So Flute – Far Out headed to the Deaf Institute to take the whole thing in.

As his exposure has grown and greater resources have made them themselves available, this forward-thinking musician has taken every step possible to develop his live output and throw ever more collaborations into the mix.

When we caught Werkha – aka Tom A. Leah – at his Beacons EP launch last year the project was a three-piece. This time around the live band swells to five for much of the set.

There’s the on-point percussion provided by Matt Davies and the versatile exploits of Shunka on bass guitar and strings, providing a solid foundation for the nifty guitar hooks and enthralling loops and samples from Leah himself.

At the heart of the album  is the kind of electronic pulse that has been harnessed by the likes of Four Tet and Bonobo in recent times, but live the setup ignites a more sprawling set of influences, meandering through jazz, hip-hop, house, soul and even disco. The Nile Rodgers-esque guitar that comes out on ‘Sidesteppin” is irressistable.

Vocals on that track are provided by Bryony Jarman-Pinto who is flawless all night. Her rich tones dance on the surface of Leah’s production, proving that she’s an integral part of the live show.

But for this very special occasion, the Tru Thoughts signee has not one but three singers on hand, also making it a family affair by welcoming his sister to the stage for ‘Le Roitlett’.

The reception is marvellous throughout a bumper set that is pushing 90 minutes by the time the band make their exit. The catchy groove of ‘Tempo Tempo’ sends the beromiter of euphoria through the roof.

But with such a rapturous response, Werkha can’t help but appease the overwhelming chants of “one more tune!”. Such a fresh-faced repertoire can make encores a challenge, but a second rendition of ‘Sidesteppin” turns out to be everything the crowd want and more. A triumphant launch show.

Patrick Davies