The Probes / The Night and Day Café, Manchester | 12th of January

The Probes / The Night and Day Café, Manchester | 12th of January

The Night and Day Café holds a special place in my heart when it comes to new and upcoming acts. This is the hallowed ground where the cryptic and weird early performances of WU LYF were held, shows that have now passed into legend. Therefore hopes were high when I wandered down Oldham Street last Friday night to see another gaggle of fresh meat headed by Liverpudlians: The Probes.

Up first however was troubadour Mark Pratt. While I was expecting your average (and rather wet) singer-songwriter performance, Mark had a trick up his sleeve. His lush baritone and whistling skills added another layer to his sound and livened up what could have been a staid opening.

Next were the rather fresh-faced Pleasures. Hyperactive and willing to shower the audience with noise they ramped it up another level and started the crowd moving. They dripped stoner, skater chic and rollicked around the stage as they performed their British take on influences such as Wavves and Tame Impala.

Taking the last spot before the main event, Babylon brought they’re brand of indie to the floor. Reminiscent of the Arctic Monkeys during their second album they bounced along at a reasonable pace and the harmonies between the two guitarists added something to there sound. Their biggest cheer however came at the end of their second song when they hit the opening strains of Waterfall by the Stone Roses. The cover must have done somewhat justice considering the Mancunian’s reaction.

Now for the main event and slowly the room around us became slightly more tightly backed as The Probes entered the stage. They plunged straight into Dry Sync and the crowd suddenly kicked off with flying limbs added to the maelstrom. Described in some sections of the press as a psych band with a lot of influence from Can and Neu. There is undoubtedly a resemblance to these touchstones however, the first half of the set had me looking towards late 80s indie band The House Of Love. They jangled like The Smiths yet had the muscular nature and heavier tones that at some points brought the set to the brink of shoegaze.

After the strong, domineering vocals of the previous acts, I at first found the lead singer to be lacking in presence that did justice to other instrumentalists. However as I listened on, I discovered the amongst the reverberating distortion brought by the guitars, his vocals actually sat well within the music. If they could find a singer to add extra harmony to the backdrop of noise, I would be just that little more satisfied.

Nonetheless , at the beginning of the second song Father’s Word, the lead guitarist won me over as he produced the same guitar Ian Curtis can be seen playing in the classic Love Will Tear Us Apart. Forced through a multitude of pedals we now had a trip back to The Inspiral Carpets and some more baggy influences were creeping in. Constantly The Probes held the crowd in their hands and the bouncing continued.

With the second half of the set, the band reverted to type as Bridge of Fingers and Magnet Man played with all their Krautrock influences in tack. Finally they once more sent the more exuberant members of the crowd into a frenzy with the guttural shouts and screams of Space Brain. They came across as a companion act to recent purveyors of motornik beats such as The Horrors and Toy, however unlike those two acts these scouse lads had left out the goth clothing and fancy haircuts. The rolling doom from their guitars was dark enough to round out a gig that was both tough enough for a mosh and melodic still for a sway.


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