Call A Bloody Chiropractor (Cancer Bats – Live)

Recently, I seem to have been on a bit of a mission to find out exactly how many blows to the head I can take before my writing ability descends to that of an ex-boxers’ vocal equivalent.

Enter Cancer Bats – a band who we’ve recently encountered via freshly released album ‘The Spark That Moves’. The Canadians are always one to send their material out in quirky fashion with a new live launch concept – most famously with the ‘Pentagram Tour’, which saw them playing six London shows in a day at established venues that, handily, made up a pentagram on the map. Gnarly. This time we’ve had a round of tiny cap shows ticketed at just £5 (free for the London date) which sold out in minutes.

Something shone on this writer one late April morning when, instead of rolling over to go back to sleep, I checked my socials just as the announcement was going out. Here’s a word I haven’t heard in years: kerching!

Star & Garter is one of my favourite small venues in Manchester. It’s a DIY institution housed upstairs in a pretty unassuming pub on the less built-up side of Picadilly station. It’s hot, sweaty, and the bartenders almost certainly hate you, but all of that’s good – at least you know where you fucking stand. Today, I was mostly standing right at the front in the middle.

There was only one support tonight in Leeds Hardcore 5-piece Higher Power, who’ve popped up on a few great tours recently, supporting Astroid Boys and the like. I’m told they’re usually very solid vocally, but tonight the sound just isn’t there for them to make an impact. I couldn’t really make out any lyrics through the lack of volume out front, so any nuances were lost on anyone who wasn’t already a big fan. They got some heads moving, clobbered out a few chunky riffs then fucked off to make way for our headliners.

I won’t lie, I was a bit worried a this point that the sound was primed to suck all night.

I needn’t have braced myself. Cancer Bats burst into the grubby room with new album opener ‘Gatekeeper’, hurling bodies all over the shop and raising a couple of mighty lumps as the first stage-divers of the night land squarely on my bonce. Frontman Liam Cormier’s new haircut might allow him to slide seamlessly into the Geography teaching pool if he so desired, but his stage presence is all it ever was and more, well into the second decade of relentlessly touring the Bats’ particular blend of positive, Southern/Metal-infused Hardcore.

As you’d expect, throughout the evening we’re given a healthy burst of new stuff from ‘The Spark That Moves’, which goes down brilliantly in a live context! The agression and rawness in the compact space hammer the message on record home a little more, and while it still might not be my favourite release of theirs (even after a few weeks’ wearing the CD to the nub in my car) I can’t ignore that these are some hard jams when half the room are trying to Kung Fu kick each other in the spine.

Beyond the newies, I’m very happy with the selection of older stuff thrown our way. Filthy pockets from ‘Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones’ and, later, ‘Hail Destroyer’ keep the night alive with tunes every fan could shout along with – the whole band tightly attuned to their entire back catalogue. I’m guesing they don’t need much practise on the ‘Hail Destroyer’ front, given they’ve very recently finished playing it in full every night at their run of sold out Camden Underworld shows!

Mic stands and limbs are flying everywhere without any real respite; Cancer Bats’ slower tracks tend to be as heavy as the speedy ones. I’ve been banging my head for at least an hour straight. I’ll need a fucking chiropractor after this. Time for axe-man Scott Middleton to reel us in with that classic, rolling ‘Pneumonia Hawk’ riff, then home.

What a way to fall back in love with a band.

 

Set List
Gatekeeper
Trust No One
R.A.T.S.
We Run Free
Brightest Day
Road Sick
Space and Time
Winterpeg
Hail Destroyer
Harem of Scorpions
Smiling Politely
Let It Pour
Bricks & Mortar
Scared to Death
Arsenic in the Year of the Snake
Pneumonia Hawk

 

Cancer Bats and Higher Power played at Star & Garter, Manchester on Tuesday 8th May 2018. It was very loud.

Jed Saint
About Jed Saint 39 Articles
Jed the Music Ed. is a Music Promoter/Booking Agent and general fixer with Rawkus Events. Jed's interests include a constant and reckless over-caffeination, irrationally spontaneous travel plans and maintaining an over-expensive (borderline hoarder) PC/retro gaming habit.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.