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Lamb Live in Manchester

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Manchester Academy 2, 21 October 2019

Touring Band

Andy Barlow - keyboards
Lou Rhodes - vocals
Jon Thorne - electric/acoustic bass
Nikolaj Bjerre - drums
Quinta - violin, viola
Danny Lohner - electric guitar/effects, programming
Kevin Davey - trumpet, guitar

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I first heard Lamb Back in 2001. The album was WHAT SOUNDS which I loved and is still one of my favourite albums of all time. I loved its song-writing; I loved its mix of jazz, pop and dance; and I loved its originality, sincerity, transparency and passion. Then came BETWEEN DARKNESS AND WONDER in 2003 which was equally moving and which led to me interviewing the band that year. Over the band’s twenty-year existance it has been one of the UK’s most consistent bands but I have never witnessed a live performance - until now.

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The Academy 2 is Manchester University’s second-largest venue and which has boasted some superb performers over the years. Good sound management is critical though, something I’ve found has been generally getting worse in more recent years. The young DJ support act Ekcle perform in front of a sparse crowd but still encourage a couple of mystical dancers with their average mix of ambient and drum ‘n’ bass music.

As if by magic, the venue filled to capacity ready for Lamb’s arrival. Following a short delay and the deposit of a warm drink flask by the vocalist mic, band members wandered onto the stage followed by Rhodes looking more than glamorous with her flowing white dress and black feather hair decoration. She looked stunning but as soon as the opening song, ‘Phosphorous’ (from the new album), started I sensed a problem. Rhodes looked uncomfortable and after the first song she admitted that she had a cold and sore throat, apologising in advance if her voice was not at its best.

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‘Phosphorous’ provided a gentle, intimate vocal warm-up for Rhodes before the drum and bass driven ‘Armageddon Waits’. I’ve yet to hear the new album but already I’m making a mental note to acquire it on the strength of these two opening numbers. The song explodes for its chorus before Rhodes croons gently before exploding again. It was superb and how the lady could perform like that with a sore throat is beyond me! Brilliant vocal harmonies complete a fantastic song.

The beautiful vintage ‘We Fall In Love’ is next before another new song arrives. ‘Illumina’ is a rhythmic marvel where Rhodes’ vocal comes to the fore in all its expressive beauty. The song is a mid-paced ballad bursting with drama and atmosphere. ‘Imperial Measures’ is another new song with Barlow’s keyboards leading the slow march and another majestic Rhodes vocal. The song has a strong Celt folk ambience and is utterly beautiful.

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‘The Secret Of Letting Go’ is a slice of distinctive, original adventure with its instrumental treatment and almost talking pace vocal. ‘Deep Delerium’ pushes the pace and dramatics before the vintage and fan favourite ‘Gabriel’ from the wonderful WHAT SOUND album arrives. Orchestral sounds and another stunning Rhodes vocal made this one of the nbight’s special moments. It’s also an example of how great the setlist is mixing as it does the brand new with some very special vintage moments - the ideal balance. The audience is genuinely enthusiastic and encouraging which visibly moves Rhodes.

The instrumental and electronic performances on the night were perfect and while I felt the sound management could have been better, the band’s unique quality and emotion came through loud and clear. Another new song in ‘Bulletproof’ is launched with its percussive brightness bursting forth. ‘The Silence In Between’ then gently wanders in and is anotehr very special moment. Rhodes is unique in the way she can interpret a song and reveal its inner truth. The violin moments too are special while keyboards anchor the whole. Totally stunning!

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I’ve seen a few gigs in 2019 but I have to say this one was unique in the way it moved me. Lamb is a band that in recording terms that gets better with each record. The music and its performance were masterful, and this was a night to cherish. ‘Górecki’ arrived during the demanded encore and for me was another special moment that sealed the deal for me. It also summarises what this band and especially Rhodes and Barlow are all about…

‘Górecki’ Lyrics

If I should die this very moment
I wouldn’t fear
For I’ve never known completeness
Like being here
Wrapped in the warmth of you
Loving every breath of you
Still in my heart this moment
Or it might burst
Could we stay right here
Until the end of time until the earth stops turning
Gonna love you until the seas run dry
I’ve found the one I’ve waited for
All this time I’ve loved you
And never known your face
All this time I’ve missed you
And searched this human race
Here is true peace
Here my heart knows calm
Safe in your soul
Bathed in your sighs
Want to stay right here

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About

LAMB’s ‘Gorecki’, is based on the Third Symphony by the Polish composer of the same name. It’s a track that builds with orgasmic certainty into a very personal recognition of the wonder of one-in-a-million love and the obliterative bliss it can generate.

In an interview Rhodes explains: “It’s about when I first heard Gorecki’s Third Symphony with someone who is very important to me. It was one of life’s perfect moments. I was completely moved to tears, and still am, when I hear the Third Symphony; I can safely say it’s one of the most moving pieces of music ever written, and that’s not just because of the context in which l first heard it.”

The single reached 30th position in the UK chart in march 1997.

Setlist

Phosphorous
Armageddon Waits
We Fall in Love
Illumina
Imperial Measures
The Secret of Letting Go
Deep Delirium
Gabriel
The Other Shore
Bulletproof
The Silence In Between
One Hand Clapping
””””””””’
Angelica
Satellites
Backspace
Górecki
Trans Fatty Acid

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