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30th March 2016

Live: Submotion Orchestra

The Leeds based seven piece return to Manchester’s dark cave-like venue to release their sound on an audience new and returning


24th March 2016


Rudely, we considered missing the support act and going in straight for Submo at half past eight – because you know, time is just so precious these days. However, when memories of Catching Flies’ ‘Stay Forever’ came revolving back as it looped repeatedly in a fume filled hall of residence in first year, I thought it right that we indeed caught the flies.

Catching Flies is a 23 year old DJ from London and is the perfect sound to precede the main act’s ambient mix of dub, jazz and instrumental electronica. His downtempo lullabies wrap up the crowd in the black magic of the venue, enclosing the sound around us in the box room under Deangate’s railway bridge. It feels safe, it feels special, it feels like we’re experiencing something unique.

I wait patiently for my plus one to arrive, playing rock paper scissors with a fellow hanger-rounder by the bar. My friend is from Kirkby and has a rare Norwegian beauty to her, very Agnetha Fältskog from Abba, though the thick Liverpudlian accent makes the distinction clear. We look around for her and my new hand game pal asks where she is, ‘probably stealing, or lying’, I reply. To which he returns that they got in via tunnelling; his mate is part mole. ‘Mole mates’: they’re good to have.

Submotion begin and a couple of songs start off steady but I can’t get into it until Agnetha arrives. I spot her on the balcony steps and we unite with open arms. She smells of lush perfume. I remark that Ruby looks incredibly different. Ruby Wood is the lead singer; normally blonde, around 5’5, 5’6 with soft rounded features. She seems to have lost height, dyed her hair and become significantly more oriental. It isn’t until I shout ‘G’wan Ruby’ through a cupped hand that two mortified fans turn round to shout ‘Ruby’s had a baby! That’s not Ruby’ and I realise this transformation is not quite so supernatural.

Ruby’s replacement is the equally astounding Alyusha Sings, who slots into the seven piece with a transition so smooth that it could even go unnoticed to the untrained ear, let alone the eye. Accompanying her is a rather handsome male vocalist called ____. We call him Ryan. Ruby and Ryan. A fantastic duo. Not counting the five other members of the band left on stage.

Trumpet delivery is on point as the lights coincide with the clash of drums, the circling pool of white projections dancing on each wall reflecting the album artwork of ‘Finest Hour’. Imagery is further tied up by the aforementioned oriental style of Alyusha’s dress; coinciding with the Japanese garment-inspired track from their new album ‘Colour Theory’; ‘Kimono’.

The set ends with ‘All Yours’, which Agnetha, the two aghast fans and I emotionally wail along to with arms in the air for the band’s classic. Some disapproving looks aside, (not sorry if you can’t see the funny side of ‘We loved you in Drive’ heckles) the crowd is pretty together for this one, and as the lights go up and faces are illuminated, there’s more than just a trace of that ever so elusive gig feeling that breathes from the inside out.

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