The Flies - Roadhouse
Live Review

The Flies – Roadhouse, Manchester

After spending a solid eight years on bass with psychedelic slow-core band Spritualised and a further three years as lead singer of Lupine Howl, Sean Cook has decided to spread his wings even further in order to concentrate on his Bristol-based band The Flies.

The band formed back in 2005 through a studio project with fellow Bristolian production duo The Insects. Shortly afterwards, and rightly so they played their first gig supporting experimental trip hopper’s Massive Attack. With the follow up to their self-titled mini digital download ‘All Too Human’ due for release on the 29th October, it would be rude not to cover this rare performance at one of Manchester’s most intimate venues.

Tonight there are still tickets left at the door, which is surprising considering Cook’s history of belonging to such a widely considered credible band. However the situation doesn’t improve when the realisation sets in that tonight’s crowd remains a minimal one (no more than 30 people), most of which don’t seem to pay much attention. As the band take to the stage in a sulky almost half arsed manor, it’s hard to pin point if this is due to poor turn out or whether it’s simply the nature of the band. With a strong moody tinge to the air, deep red lights and smoke machines work together to form a heavy ambience. After waiting for Cook to adopt a Jarvis Cocker type stance the set gets going and I’m instantly assured that the spliff I had before I left the house was a great idea.

Opening track ‘All Too Human’ sees the band enticing the crowd with each hypnotic beat and sly shuffle while slowly creeping its way around our brains before progressively getting more intense. However ‘Walking On The Sand’ takes a more numinous approach with Sean’s lustful vocals beckoning the rest of the band to curl themselves tightly around his words. Hauntingly intricate and seeped in mystery it’s hard to escape the Spritualised influence here, a good thing obviously. However ‘The Temptress’ takes a more sordid path lending the band a more seductive blend of slinky percussion and sinister grooves, but looking back the performance would have been enhanced if on stage the band was joined by a couple of carefree young ladies whirling around a pole or two. ‘Lord Of The Flies’ and ‘We Began’ sees the band sticking to the same charming formula of Bristol fused beats alongside a dark almost filmic environment. It’s during these songs that Cook introduces his harmonica and with it a stunning warped sense of wonder fills the stage. For the audience it’s highly mesmerising watching Sean sweet talk his instrument, however the same cant be said for the bassist who basically looks gutted to be there.

After only five songs the band decides to cut short their set, probably due to lack of crowd interest but mainly because the whole thing seems so unfortunately pointless. The band round things off with a ballsy rendition of ‘High’ (the first single to be taken from their new album), the mood is instantly lifted and their rock and roll back bone shines through blessing the audience with a pulsating tempo that’s drenched in Primal Scream arrogance, while all the time singing ‘Get me high/I don’t need you love’, probably the most overused lyrics of all time. Despite this the band still manages to provide a refreshing impact to which you don’t even bother questioning its been there, herd that nature.

Minimalist in their approach yet beautifully big in their output, The Flies have the potential for greatness, but this won’t be achieved if fans remain unsupportive. However for Cook it must make a nice change to be playing in such a low-key band. It’s clearly enhanced his creativity and musical freedom to which there’s less pressure upon. Hopefully the new album will trigger wide interest and at the same time Mancunian’s will have wished that they’d pulled their finger out from inside their arse and attended this gig.

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