The Drums – Deaf Institute, Manchester – 30th March 2010

Posted on April 1, 2010

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written for High Voltage

Manchester’s Deaf Institute was packed to the rafters as The Drums made their much anticipated return to this growing left-field venue. An expectant audience did not leave disappointed as the New Yorkers provided an energetic performance full of vocal hooks and superb dancing.

Support tonight came in the shape of Uranium Lake, a Manchester outfit whose members have seemingly only listened to one band in their life. The extent to which they have referenced The Smiths means that they appear short of ideas and creativity, essential ingredients for anyone trying to make new music. Indeed, the fusion of jangly arpeggios and mournful vocals has been done so well by Messrs Morrissey and Marr that it’s just not worth replicating. In fairness, they are very young, and the competency they showed in delivering their songs was impressive. The drumming was solid and the bass playing was technically very well executed. If they can attempt to integrate some more influences they could yet develop a more unique sounding brand of alternative pop, but at the moment it lacks originality.

The Drums are a four-piece indie-rock group who specialise in fusing pop chord progressions with heartfelt, and sometimes sombre, lyrics. This technique of disguising a dark narrative within a joyful melody is one that works well. They are serious about their craft and place a heavy emphasis on engaging their crowd, and all who are present, including two of their heroes Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, seem entertained. The lead singer, Jonathan Pierce, is one of the most charismatic front men in music, and his dance moves have to be seen to be believed. Not that he is the lone entertainer. All of the band exude a positive energy which transmits to their young audience.

There is a heavy dose of pop sensibilities in The Drums’ DNA but they show a certain amount of depth too. Indeed, the standout track of the evening is Down By The Water, a slower song than the rest in the set but one which emits painstaking emotion. The range in Pierce’s vocal is vividly displayed, and with the drumming stripped down to just toms and cymbals, it all comes together to create a grand piece. ‘Best Friend’ is received very well with its contagious vocal melody and joyous arpeggio beautifully delivered. Pierce has a knack of tapping into melodies that seem so obvious, almost as if you have heard them before, and using them to convey his brand of sadness and insecurity.

The Drums brought some sunshine to Manchester’s Deaf Institute tonight. On a miserable and wet evening, their brand of simple yet effective guitar pop songs successfully whipped their audience into a frenzy, and proved to all in attendance that they are a force to be reckoned with in the indie arena. They possess high-energy pop arrangements, accessible melodies and clean, crisp guitar tones. They certainly have more style and substance than your average indie band and they are gathering a very committed audience that should continue to grow. Whether this is music that will stand the test of time is debateable, but expect 2010 to be the year when The Drums truly arrive and establish themselves in the music industry.

photography by Sam Ellis

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Posted in: Music