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13th February 2022

Live review: Legss at YES basement

Kristin Cooper reviews Post-punk group Legss play to a sold out crowd at YES basement with support from Pyncher and Mandrake Handshake.
Live review: Legss at YES basement
Photo: Kristin Cooper @ The Mancunion

Sabotage MCR presented a great night of music last Saturday in the basement at YES with performances from Pyncher and Mandrake Handshake supporting Legss. Previously postponed from 16th December 2021 due to coronavirus concerns, the much-anticipated show sold out, making for a packed basement.

The headliners Legss are an experimental post-punk four-piece from London, consisting of Ned Green, Louis Grace, Max Oliver and Jake Martin. The group have released two EPs: Writhing Comedy in 2019 and Doomswayers in 2020 and remained relatively unknown for a while, but now people are paying more attention. When I found their music last year, I became obsessed with the Doomswayers EP, so have waited to see them live with much anticipation. Their music encompasses post-punk and art-pop, with moody satirical lyricism that portrays the modern anxieties of our generation.

Mandrake Handshake, a ten-person psychedelic collective, crowded the stage with eight of their members. Their music had a much lighter and cheerier tone than Legss and engaged the crowd with danceable music coming from a variety of instruments. Their ensemble includes an assortment of instruments such as a flute, a tambourine and a saxophone. The resident flautist and saxophonist David told us after the show that they’d only had one rehearsal prior to the gig- the band performed so tightly that this surprised me. Mandrake Handshake had a great stage presence with the tambourine player maintaining such high energy throughout the set.

Photo: Kristin Cooper @The Mancunion

Legss delivered a tone shift, entering the stage to a heavy, almost creepy, funfair type of tune. Starting with one of their more recent singles ‘Hyde Park Coroner’, the band created a great atmosphere that persisted throughout the set.

Next came ‘On Killing a Swan Blues’, a great song about British perpetual tiredness. The song contrasted poignant lyrics such as “we’re all so tired but especially me” with explosive guitar riffs. Green sardonically summed up the difference between the U.S. and Britain: “And if I was an American / My experiences, they would’ve shaped me / Because I’m British / They only make me tired.” What stands out about Legss is the sardonic spoken-word lyricism which gives them a distinct sound.

Their live performances do even more to cultivate their sound, with impressive drones linking songs and maintaining the atmosphere perfectly. ‘Local God’ -a song that I didn’t take much notice to before seeing it live- stood out as an impressive and climactic moment in their set.

Despite having a technical mishap with a guitar, with the lead singer calling on Mandrake Handshake for a spare guitar, the flow of the show was not affected at all. The four of them remained focused, proceeding immediately on with their set. The band went on to perform ‘Venus’ and their latest single ‘Hollywood’, which Green explained to the crowd is about his mum.

Photo: Kristin Cooper @The Mancunion

Legss ended strongly with ‘Doomswayers’. It is my favourite song of theirs so it was a pleasure to see it performed live. It ended in a cacophony, which left the audience to digest the intense set they’d just witnessed.

I would have loved to have heard ‘Letter to Huw’, but we can’t have it all. I hope to see more gigs from Legss in Manchester and definitely see them appearing on the festival circuit this summer.

Listen and watch the short film Legss released for Hollywood back in October below!

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