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francescahall
29th October 2022

Live review: Witch Fever charm the crowd at YES

Witch Fever played a sold out show at YES Basement on Tuesday night as part of their debut album tour
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Live review: Witch Fever charm the crowd at YES
Photo: Witch Fever @ Nic Bezzina

On Tuesday night (October 25), Manchester punks Witch Fever descended upon YES Basement, armed with a brand new collection of songs from their debut album Congregation. While the slightly more laidback Westerman and Laura Misch played the Pink Room upstairs, the Basement became a den of debauchery: a dark, hidden underworld revealing itself beneath the venue.

Fellow Manchester band SLAP RASH kicked off the night in style, tearing up the stage with their razor-sharp sound. For just two people, they really know how to fill the room with noise. Vocalist and drummer Amelia Lloyd did not miss a single beat, throwing herself into every song with intense fervour and focus.

Meanwhile her brother, bassist Huw, delivered deliciously dirty riffs as he staggered around the stage. Towards the end of their set, SLAP RASH expressed their gratitude for being given the opportunity to support such an exciting band. “We love Witch Fever!”, they exclaimed, during a breakdown in their final song.

Witch Fever arrived onstage to loud cheers and began their set with ‘Blessed Be Thy’, the raucous opening track from Congregation. Cloaked in ghoulish red and green lighting, the band were bursting with confidence and charisma from the get-go.

Flanked by her effortlessly cool bandmates Alex Thompson and Alisha Yarwood, and backed up by Annabelle Joyce‘s powerhouse drumming, lead singer Amy Walpole appeared completely at home onstage – and in a way, she was. After a year of touring the UK and writing an album, the band finally had the chance to play to their new material to a home crowd.

“Sherry? Where’s lovely Sherry? I’ve forgotten my water!”, Amy called out to their tour manager at the end of the first song. Her mild-mannered, down to earth demeanour seemed almost at odds with her otherwise intimidating punk persona, but it was refreshing to see an artist not take themselves too seriously. When her thirst was quenched, each band member seamlessly resumed their ferocious stance and continued the set with more tracks from the LP. ‘I Saw You Dancing’ particularly ignited the crowd – fans yelled the lyrics back to the band, and a lively mosh pit soon formed in the gloom.

In the middle of their set, Witch Fever stopped playing and took a minute to address important ongoing issues within both the music industry and the wider world. “Society is fucking shit,” Amy declared, with an air of tired frustration in her voice. “Sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, classism, ableism… We think that music is the one place where that should not exist!”

She then told an anecdote from the previous night’s show in Leeds, where a male audience member had acted inappropriately towards her at the merch stand at the end of the gig. “Your body is your own!” she shouted passionately, and the band launched into their next song with a renewed fury.

The set continued to gain momentum, rising to a crescendo when Amy came down into the audience during ‘Reincarnate’, the title track off the band’s 2021 EP. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, she strolled effortlessly through the thick cluster of enchanted fans, who quickly stepped back to let her through. She found her way to the bar and climbed atop it to sing the song’s rousing refrain “After all that I’ve been through / After all that I’ve seen / You won’t break me”, before returning to the stage.

The night ended on ’12’, Congregation‘s powerful closing track, and the band left the stage to rowdy applause. Witch Fever didn’t do an encore, but they didn’t need to; they had held the crowd in the palm of their hand for the entirety of the performance.

 

Congregation was released on October 21, and you can stream it below:

Francesca Hall

Francesca Hall

Deputy Music Editor

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