This is my first trip to the Rebellion club in Manchester and I’m looking forward to seeing a new venue, easy to get to, opposite the Deansgate train station. I arrive early and join the queue that is already forming outside. Once inside we are greeted by a decent size stage, plenty of room for energetic bands. The first band is on at 8 and there is already a good sized crowd at the front of the stage ready and waiting, first bands on the bill usually get a raw deal for crowds and I’m glad to see that isn’t the case tonight.
The stage fills with smoke as the lights drop and The Nightmares take to the stage, this relatively new Welsh four-piece produce a tightly packed set of post punk style music, with a definite hint of isolation and melancholy dripping into each track. A bit slow for my usual taste, but they put on a good show, the crowd loved them and they’re a band to watch out for if you’re looking for a fresh new look to the good old days of Joy Division and New Order.
An act I’ve seen before next, Luke Rainsford a talented young singer-song writer from Birmingham. I was very much impressed with his solo acoustic set the last time I saw him, this time he’s brought some friends. This provided a new rawness and edge to his songs that are already fuelled with raw emotion and you can see the joy in his face as he performs. Throughout the set, Luke talks to the cheering crowd, introducing his songs which touch on subjects such as loss, grief and mental health issues. As with the last time I saw him, Luke put his heart and soul into the performance, enthralling the crowd and reminding me just how good he is.
Finally, it’s time and the stage goes dark. Shadowy figures move onto the smoke-filled stage, and the predominately young crowd goes wild. Holding Absence are touring to promote their newly released self-titled album and so open with “Perish”, the first song from the album, that after a short synth intro launches into a roller coaster ride that seriously ups the tempo from the earlier bands. The energy and passion is obvious from these 5 young lads from Cardiff as they move onto “Your Love (Has Ruined My Life)” and when Lucas Woodland screams the title line its almost enough to bring you to tears.
Moving on to “Monochrome” and the entire crowd sings along in chorus, this band has a great following here in Manchester. They sing and scream along to every song, hands out stretched, the bands exuberance is plain to see with James Joseph on bass, high kicking and Lucas leaping around the stage. While all playing exceptionally well, the tightly hammered beat coming from Ashley Green’s drums is awe inspiring as he doesn’t stop still the entire time, his head and hair flailing all over the place.
A couple of songs from their earlier EP and we are back to the new material, then just before the end of the set the band mysteriously walk off stage. A keyboard is brought out and Lucas takes the seat to perform “Marigold” solo, a haunting tune of love and wanting, the crowd completely still as he sings to a sea of lights. A brief moment of calm in this high energy dervish of music.
The keyboard is whisked away then the crowd is treated to “Stay a Little Longer” with its haunting beginning and chorus, the guitar work from Olly Meager and Feisal El-Khazragi has been flawless throughout again with so much energy and movement, I’m hard pressed to keep them in focus. Finishing on the first single “Penance”, Holding Absence gave a non-stop whirlwind performance, it’s easy to see why people have been raving about this quintet since they first came on to the scene. They made a fan out of me tonight.