Childhood / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 22nd of November

Childhood / The Deaf Institute, Manchester | 22nd of November

On November 22, I went to see Childhood at The Deaf Institute, with support from JW Ridley and Sorry.

First up on the night was JW Ridley, whose physical resemblance to Ian Curtis somewhat seeped into his vocal performance. Curating the electronic textures of his backing tracks with simple melodic sinews on his guitar, Ridley achieved a sound that was both delicate yet expansive. His intricate sonic qualities were probably more deserving of a bigger crowd, but playing first has its pitfalls. Once combined with Ridley’s cavernous vocals, the result was a penumbral gauze, its spectral qualities akin to the likes of Joy Division and New Order.

Up next was alternative quartet Sorry, whose spiky grunge-like songs reverberated a general disquiet around the venue. Palpitating drum beats and jagged guitar interplay were juxtaposed with mellow harmonies to unnerving effect. While the contrast between these smooth and abrasive melodies underpinned much of the potency of the performance, there were instances where the band fully embraced a rougher sound, mixing perturbing vocal embellishments and dramatic instrumentation in a climactic dirge. Overall, I was really impressed – a genuine and rousing performance from start to finish.

Finally, a full house, or so it seemed, as headliners Childhood took up the stage to promote their new album Universal High. Having only recently discovered the band, I was surprised somewhat by the general buzz and anticipation in the audience when they arrived. However, this sentiment soon subsided as Childhood put on a rhapsodic display of soulful bliss. Euphonious vocal lines fused with balmy guitar riffs to produce rapturous and memorable hooks, while the general exuberance of the songs stood out even more considering the elegiac malaise of the support. On their latest album, the band pursued a more soul infused sound, most apparent on the single ‘California Light’. Their rendition of the single was arguably the highlight of the night, with lead singer, Ben Romans-Hopcraf, providing an energetic and enthusiastic performance. Backing vocals were enticing, accentuating more prominent melodies, with a more eclectic range of influences on the new record seemingly inspiring an authentic and original live performance. The setlist was not limited to new material, and performances of songs from their first album, particularly the single ‘Blue Velvet’, were also enjoyed by all. Situated in the midst of a jubilant crowd, it was plain to see that Childhood have a certain magnetism, some charismatic pull that’s especially alluring to first time listeners. Indeed, my own physical experience of the gig in its entirety supports this notion. Descending from the high heavens of the tiered seating, I gravitated towards the centre of the floor as the band began to play, their warming tenor and joyful sonic flux prickling my ears. For avid followers and first time listeners alike, a palpable hue of community hung in the atmosphere, constantly renewed and reiterated via dulcet hooks and sweet sounding chord progressions. Here’s to what new sounds their next album brings.

As expected, The Deaf Institute didn’t disappoint, and all in all, it was good night seeing three new artists that I’d happily see again.

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