Imagine you’re standing in an outdoor venue, anxiously waiting for two of your favourite musicians to walk on stage and perform a setlist of effortlessly cool, witty songs. Then they walk on, accompanied by none other than Johnny Marr, iconic guitarist of The Smiths, and open their gig with Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me. I was fortunate enough to witness this as I travelled to Manchester’s Castlefield Bowl to see The Last Shadow Puppets perform on Sunday night.
Men of the North: Alex Turner and Miles Kane, instantly won the hearts of the crowd as they strolled on stage with Johnny Marr, capturing the essence of Manchester through a classic song of the city. The lyrics: ‘Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me…’ and ‘Last night I felt real arms around me…’ were sung, instantly transforming the stuffed crowd of the venue from initial awkwardness to complete and utter ease. There was a unified adoration of those on stage; to be witnessing the merge of iconic musical geniuses had to be somewhat of an honour. It’s no surprise that Marr decided to accompany Turner and Kane during the opening of their gig; despite their different style to The Smiths, the lyrics of The Last Shadow Puppets are equally as genius and compelling as those composed by Morrissey.
Having formed The Last Shadow Puppets and releasing their debut album: The Age of the Understatement in 2008, Turner and Kane projected ambitious, Scott Walker influenced work and enjoyed great success before embarking on a lengthy hiatus. This year, they boldly returned with their new album: Everything You’ve Come To Expect, laced with charisma, sophistication and seduction. There is even a slight tinge of Serge Gainsbourg throughout the album, with its subtly descending strings in Dracula Teeth, and general sexual references which are voiced with a sense of style and taste. The pair portray a menacing, brotherly duo which was boldly apparent on Sunday in the setting of Castlefield Bowl. As the night dawned on Manchester, a sense of harmony between the pair was cast upon the crowd. Turner casually swung his hips from side to side, mirroring the tempting lyrics falling from his mouth, whilst Kane incited fire towards the crowd with his frantic, agitated gestures, and delivery of canny lyrics. Together, their mixture of coolness and craziness blended into one, a mood emphatic of their latest album.
Whilst the perfectly poised string section on stage may have initially suggested a chilled and mellow concert, Turner and Kane’s gig transitioned from this to the complete opposite image, to say the least. Towards the beginning of the gig, Turner uttered: ‘I’ve got a feeling something terrible is about to happen, Manchester’ before handing over to Kane who ominously began their hit single: Bad Habits. It was at this point that the entire venue became a swirling mass of insanity. The crowd quite literally transitioned from appearing dazed and confused in the haunting melodies of aviation, to succumbing to a frantic mosh pit which formed right next to me throughout Bad Habits. A typical Manchester drizzle was present throughout the song, encouraging crazy-eyed teenagers to adopt visual qualities of sick puppies. Yet this only added to the thrill and excitement of the gig. That’s what I love about Turner and Kane: their ability to compose songs from one end of the spectrum to the other is as much astonishing as it is rewarding to listen to.
The empathy of their lyrics was present during the concert, and not in a tacky, corny way, but with an understated yet raw sense of emotion. As though we were not attracted to Turner and Kane enough from their wild sides, they reminded us of their innocent and romantic youth when performing tracks from their 2008 album. A timeless favourite of mine – My Mistakes Were Made For You, raised the roof of the stage with the charming assistance of the string instruments. If there’s one thing to say about the concert, it’s that it exceeded expectations. The crowd was presented with a typical encore at the end of the concert, but with the re-arrival of Johnny Marr, who assisted the pair in covering The Fall’s Totally Wired. Kane took the helm on this, living up to the songs title with his vigorous and exuberant vocal performance. A nod to their past, The Meeting Place closed the concert, and the tireless atmosphere continued to circulate throughout Castlefield Bowl right until the strings performed the final uplifting note of the song. The Last Shadow Puppets made it perfectly clear to me that, even following their long hiatus, the element of surprise was far from lost in their enthralling music.
‘All of our exchanges are by candlelight.’
‘There’s a set of rickety stairs in between my heart and my head.’
‘I slip and I slide like a spider on an icicle frozen in time.’
‘Visions of the past and possible future shoot through my mind and I can’t let go; inseparable opposing images.’
‘As your shrinking figure blows a kiss, I catch and smash it on my lips.’
‘I’m a phoney, I’m a fake, a fraud, a snake. Give me all your love so I can fill you up with hate.’
‘Threatening behaviour bounces round my mind. Enthusiasm paraphernalia, all over the side.’
‘The idea of seeing you here is enough to make the sweat grow cold.’
‘As she turned into the night, all he had was the words: ‘I’m sorry I met you darling.”
‘Innocence and arrogance entwined in the filthiest of minds.’
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All photographs above taken by me. For more of my photography, please visit: http://fayeisabellaphotography.portfoliobox.net
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