FOE – The Castle, Manchester 22 January 2012

Foe Manchester3With a band like FOE all attention is rightly and firmly focussed on front woman Hannah Clark. So much so, that it’s possible to be blind to what goes into getting those brilliantly skewed vocals up front and central like some flying house of cards. The Castle in Manchester keeps its music in a claustrophobic back room that heats up like an oven. The stage is too small for anything but the drummer, the rest of the band are on the floor. The front row of the audience, yours truly included, are about two feet in front of them, and it’s packed to the back wall, with late-comers craning round the door.
It’s up close and personal, and the nearest you’re going to come to getting under the skin of how this band operate. They make out like it’s rock and roll, and at times it’s just and only that, stopping on a dime, hanging in the moment for a crash drum beat. But there’s a lot of technicality at play too, guitar and effects changes as fast as the pit lane at Silverstone. There’s only one moment of technical hitch, and even then, Adam Crisp has to tell us that it’s not actually a clever and deliberate soundscape. He needn’t have bothered, we’d have been none the wiser, mesmerised as we are. Indeed there are drifting moments of dreamy swirl later in the set, and this time round, he has to tell us that this one is supposed to be there.
I don’t know if it’s a help when writers declare an interest, but I’ve been rivetted to this band since the outset, and tonight is the fourth time I’ve seen them. There’s a reason I keep going back, they were frickin’ hot to start with, but the energy of this cauldron of a room suits them, lifts them to a whole new level. The entire delivery is in your face loud and confident, just the right side of brash.
Having therefore spoken about everything else, let’s not pretend. FOE is Hannah Clark and Hannah is FOE. She’s no rock and roll animal, dresses sensibly if I’m allowed to say that, apart from the blue hair. She shares with us that she’s “not really sarcastic” it’s just that people think she is. You still wouldn’t like to give her any cause to think you were, you know, a bit dull. She’s clearly in charge of this stage, don’t mistake absence of histrionics for any lack of knowing exactly what she’s projecting from her dark and sometimes touching imaginings.
With one exception the set is drawn from the new album, and if I have any disappointment it’s that the 9 song set doesn’t allow the ballad of ‘Dance And Weep’. Oh well, it was probably too rock’n’roll a night for that.
Alongside the already-converted in the front row, there’s people I know here tonight who’ve come blind on the strength of a rumour. Do you do that, recommend bands to mates and await the verdict? Tonight there’s only positivity in that moment of post-set chatter – “fuck yeah mate”.
Nine songs, no encore, over too quick, and then the band are over in the corner chatting and slightly self-consciously flogging merch. I somehow think they won’t be doing that for too much longer; if they keep going on this trajectory, anything is possible.







Foe_Manchester set list

  1. That’s the best review I’ve read yet on FOE. Ive seen them 5 times in 4 months and they get better everytime. 9 songs is the usual amount and pretty much in the same order. They always finish with Get money and Tyrant song which is a perfect ending to the gig. Last night at the Westy she came back on for an encore. On her own she sung ?? I’m not telling.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.