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Thee Oh Sees - Manchester Academy: The view from Far Out

Being the unequivocally forthright publication that we all know you’ve watched Far Out become, it’s not often that we find ourselves flummoxed by a dilemma –  but such was the case when we discovered Thee Oh Sees and King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard would both be touching down in Manchester on the same night.

After careful consideration we decided to go for the former on this occasion, with the thudding riff-fest guaranteed by John Dwyer and co just proving too much to turn down.

Thee Oh Sees aren’t a band to leave fans short changed when it comes to the length of their sets, but with strict curfews and understandably stringent security checks , the band take to the stage slightly earlier than scheduled, meaning we arrive halfway through the insatiable 60s groove of ‘Tidal Wave’.

The broadness of the band’s prolific catalogue is another factor that brings us to the room with a stack of intrigue, but it becomes immediately clear tonight is a full throttle kind of an affair. The over-arching beat of the aforementioned ‘King Gizz’ is more than matched by Thee Oh Sees’ two drummers, who sit side-by-side centre stage, with Dwyer and bassist Tim Hellman operating as a double-winged sonic attack adjacent to them.

It doesn’t take long for a hugely excitable audience to get into it either, with crowd surfing, circle pits and beer-throwing all in abundance by the time the roaring sound of ‘Toe Cutter / Thumb Buster’ kicks in. The current guise of the band – which could possibly best be described as streamlined, but with extra meat – seems to pack the biggest punch they have ever had, with Dwyer expertly instrument-swapping throughout.

It really is high-octane from start to finish, with between-song chat kept to a minimum in order to let a packed-out setlist shine. More recent material stands tall against classics like ‘The Dream’, with ‘Gelatinous Cube’ providing a bombastic highlight.

For the evening’s closer, however (why waste precious time with a formulaic encore), it’s time to say hello to an old friend. Former Thee Oh Sees drummer (yep, another one) Mike Shoun is now plying his trade with The Peacers, who provided support earlier in the night. With that in mind, it would almost rude for him to not join the band to complete a hat-trick of percussionists during the set’s final wig-out.

‘Contraction / Soul Desert’ is suitably massive-sounding and feels like it goes on for at least 20 minutes. We were too enthralled to start watch-checking to be honest. It’s been a night of ear-rattling perfection. An absolute must if you’re off to Green Man this summer.

Patrick Davies