Our Friends in the North: The Music

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It seems like light years ago that Getintothis returned to our local boozer declaring to have seen ‘the next big thing…’


But in actuality it’s just seven years since The Music blasted on to the small stage like some kind of music supergroup from planet Wig Out.
Their debut show in Liverpool felt like an ultra special night indeed. A hefty throng gathered in the Academy after sizeable hype in the press added weight to Anthony Wilson‘s soundbite that the Leeds quartet were the greatest band he’d ever seen.
And sure enough, from the electrifying opening thud of The Dance through to the whirling trademark closer Walls Get Smaller here was a band to truly get excited about.
Combining the heavy duty stomp of Zeppelin, the psychedelic wah of the Stone Roses and a tribal Oasis-like communion for fans, they appealed on all fronts.
And the on stage characters added up to something not witnessed since Brown and Squire’s lot entered my headspace as a 16-year-old.
Stage right, Stuart Coleman was like a latter day Mani – tracksuited up to the nines laying down thick stabs of four-string which slammed in the belly, stage left Adam Nutter both physically and sonically represented John Squire aged 18; all shagpile hair, arching his back while exchanging intricate guitar lines with monster Second Coming-alike riffs. Behind the kit the impish Phil Jordon was the youngest of the four Kippax kids but employed enough Bonham-like brute force that me and my mate Rob were left questioning whether a backing track of additional drums was in use. Subsequent gigs that year (about 11 – I was totally hooked) confirmed Jordon as the most shithot drummer I’d probably ever seen.
Then there was Robert Harvey: A mountain of ringlets swooshing in every direction followed in flow by a vintage Argentina footie top and striking 12 inch flares. He danced like James Brown, sung like Robert Plant and even added a sexed up SG guitar to beef up the sonic propulsion when required. He was like a psychedelic scalled-up hippie and it was magical.
To say I was blown away would be an understatement.
During the course of 18 months The Music were ‘my band’. If they were within a train ride a small posse of us would be there, drenched in sweat come closing time – and in the case of their legendary Leicester gig at the Princess Charlotte, playing pool with the band upstairs prior to the gig and dancing with them post-gig at the aftershow indie disco.
Six months later and they completely blew away their co-headliners The Coral on their home turf at the opening of Nation. And with debut releases You Might As Well Try To Fuck Me (containing quite possibly their greatest ever tune – the epic Too High) and The People EPs under their belt, they were delivering not just on the stage but on record too.
Indeed, with their distinctive swirling circles of colour adorning each release, the original EPs and subsequent self-titled debut long-player had a collectable novelty allowing fans to buy into their favourite new band’s appeal.
They headlined Liverpool’s inaugural Love Music Hate Racism gig, turning the University’s main room into a giant heartbeat of bobbing ravers as me and Rosie danced into liquid frenzy. They then replaced Billy Corgan‘s ill-fated Zwan on the Friday of Glastonbury 2003 kick-starting my first, and most enjoyable festival yet. Nothing seemingly could stop them.
But it did. And it was themselves. The release of Welcome to the North seemed at the time like a continuation of the good times. Indeed, in my end of year chart in a self-produced fanzine it was ranked second best of 2004, behind The Earlies and ahead of The Streets and Comets on Fire.
Much like anything were hype is involved, hindsight is a remarkable thing. And its not that WttN is a bad record – there’s several great tunes on there, not least Bleed From Within and the incredible finale of Open Your Mind and a re-recorded Walls Get Smaller – yet, looking back it simply feels bloated and swamped in MoR stadia slush and absent of the chaotic groove that so imbued their debut.
If anything their naive, loveable nature had led them to be misguided – they aimed for U2 grandiosity and forgot their greatest asset was transforming a club into a heaving mess of ecstatic revellers. And the circling vultures – of which there were many – took their opportunity to shoot down these young hot shots whose only crime was ambition and daring to dream.
There commenced the well-documented descent of mainman Roberto who posted quite openly on his myspace (‘Drinking became the place to hide. Id have a bottle of wine before 7pm. then go out and make a fool of myself. The next day was always panic and more questions…‘) about his problems with drugs, drink and depression.
And so while our ears retuned to new sounds, The Music were left to fade away.
That is until now. Four years later and gone has Robert‘s Aslan mane and the excess fat that smothered WttN, replaced by a record, Strength in Numbers, which is sleeker and distinctly more refined and serious in tone. Sure, the trademark Jordon open high-hats and squalling Nutter pedal effects are readily in use, but there’s also a commitment to put to bed the bluesy stodge and replace it with a clearer vision.
Idle could come straight off Massive Attack‘s Mezzanine such is its stark, electronic buzz, The Left Side combines hefty hooks with a weighty Ian Brown circa-Solarize clatter and closer Inconceivable Odds is their first stab at an acoustic number which soars in its simplistic beauty.
But most importantly, Strength in Numbers is jampacked with an urgent rush of adrenaline-fuelled riot – what they lack in subtlety they make up with heart. Drugs begins like Blondie‘s Heart of Glass before careering into the stratosphere, Fire is an updated thumping Truth No Words while Vision is a swaggering mini funk odyssey.
Poignantly the record ends with ‘hidden track’ No Danger – a six minute freakout ala Walls Get Smaller and great lost track New Instrumental. Fittingly, it seems The Music have come full circle and I for one can’t wait to catch them in action.
Start The Dance.

The Music: Strength in Numbers

The Music: Walls Get Smaller (from Live at the Black Canvas, Leeds)
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Assorted memorablia from The Music‘s first year on the road, including signed guestlist, setlist,various tickets, all original EPs and their debut record.
The Music play Liverpool Carling Academy on Wednesday June 18.

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