Shelley-Ann Staines

15:01 11th May 2006

Amusement parks on fire

Entering Manchester’s Academy 3 Gigwise are smacked around the face with the virile stench of anticipation, dazed; we stagger to the bar with only our superior sense of smell homed to the scent of stale beer for guidance…a swift pint later and we come to, finding This Et Al lubricating the growing crowd with lengthy and licentious guitar belligerence, tossing them the QOTSA inspired forthcoming single Sabbatical, and tempting musical orgasms from harlot guitars.

Amusement parks on fireBut it seems that such brilliance can only hold Manchester’s attention for a short while, and the children of the night have sauntered either to the bar or to the draped sides of the venue, where one couple are running the risk of an indecency charge. But no task is too small for the first of tonight’s double headliner’s; Nottingham’s Amusement Parks On Fire take to the stage, and like lambs to the slaughter the crowd are won over by what should be termed an anthem for Generation X, Blackout demands attention, and the crowd are happy to give it up, concurring that ‘there’s too much future to get out of the way;’ Mike Feerick’s distinctive yet understated vocals crawl out from underneath the polemical wall of sound, lead by sliding guitar and a pulsating drum sequence, wetting the mouths of Manchester’s eyeliner wearing ladies and rubbing the crotches of the cities leather kissed gentry.

Set highlight comes in the form of the first single from forthcoming album 'Out Of The Angeles', and is quite aptly named 'In Flight' as siren like effects lead the song into a storming set of block power chords, which could well have been lifted from Flight Of The Navigator, the Manchester crowd seem to have located their mojo, dancing ensues and is followed by the almost essential close your eyes and punch the air stance adopted by only the most hardcore of fans. Mike launches himself around the stage stopping briefly to grab a swig of bassist Gav’s beer, (the que may be outrageous but, will somebody get the man a pint!)  In fact, this set is testament that Amusement Parks are destined for bigger things, the layering of sound adopted to build their visceral attack on the ears, gives away Mogwai and Sigur Ros influences, and explains why Snow Patrol hand picked the band to play support at their recent London show, and why they’ll be playing the same bill as The Flaming Lips later this summer in Japan.

ScarlingAmerica’s Scarling close the night and though they are undeniably good, the impression that your watching Lacuna Coil on uppers is a difficult image to shake, the crowd clearly love it, having been endorsed by Robert Smith their reputation precedes them, and for all intensive purposes does them justice. 'Bummer' from So Long, 'Scarecrow' is a clear winner with the crowd, juxtaposing the delicately enigmatic performance and vocals of leading lady Jessicka, with a chaotic sequence of riffs and an expertly played stabilizing drum, which could win awards in itself, “If I had a party, I’d invite you all” shouts Jessicka to a more than grateful crowd who cheer as she reaches out towards them.

There is an underlying pop mentality to Scarling and its difficult to determine whether it’s a genuine attempt to play with convention and image, or whether there’s an element of irony which has just fallen a little bit short of the task. Jessicka exits the stage to a shower of cheer, and leaves the rest of the band to insight a little more chaos, spinning guitars and respectfully ripping up the stage, just a little bit!

Photos by: David Jay