Exit Calm - Sound Control, Manchester - 29th January 2014 1

Exit Calm – Sound Control, Manchester – 29th January 2014


After a month long tour in December playing across several European countries, it’s surprising to see Barnsley rockers, ‘Exit Calm’ play the smaller venue of the downstairs area at Sound Control, Manchester, considering their sound is much more deserving of a grander stage. This is a band that I’ve been greatly impressed by since I first saw them back in September, so much so that I awarded their second album, ‘The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be’ my ‘Album of the Year’ for 2013 for my co-hosted radio show on Pure 107.8 FM.

By the time the band open, Sound Control is completely packed, providing further evidence of their ability to easily sell out larger venues. They start with the hypnotic opener from their second album, ‘The Rapture’, a haunting psychedelic trip where the sweeping, rumbling guitar riff sets the tone for something that little bit special, eventually exploding into life when the brilliantly crafted lyrics finally begin. More songs off their latest album follow in the form of ‘Albion’ and ‘Fiction’, which twist in and out of spaced out, dark and purposely unstructured melodies, a key element to ‘Exit Calm’s’ stalwart song writing. On the flip side to this particular sound they can slow the pace by writing dreamy and emotive tunes that are awash with softer harmonies, especially with the likes of ‘Higher Bound’ and ‘Open Your Sky’. Whichever way you look at it, both approaches encompass an anthemic and psychedelic sound fit for any stadium. It’s almost early ‘Verve’ like with an old ‘factory’ type atmosphere rippling underneath, but with the big tune aura of early U2 records.
In Rob Marshall, they have a guitarist whose meandering and meticulous approach is simply irresistible that you cannot but help be instantly connected to. He has to be considered one of the best guitarists from the underground scene at the moment, especially when you witness his handy work on the daunting track, ‘Holy War’, where the echo and feedback from his guitar launches the band into another dimension. When you add his talents to the edgy harmonies, shuddering bass lines, and wailing vocals of lead singer Nick Smith, then you have to say that as far as psychedelic rock goes, there is currently no one better.
Much to the disappointment of the crowd and the band, the set is not as long as it should’ve been due to timing issues with the supporting acts. However, it didn’t detract from the fact that their performance was exhilarating, and as the final song, ‘Hearts and Minds’ concluded, the crowd showed their appreciation despite their desire for more not being met. I’m sure next time will see a different outcome.

I cannot recommend this band highly enough, and they are up there with the very best I’ve seen from the underground scene. To listen to the album alone can be a somewhat tranquil and trippy experience that dips in and out of the subconscious, suiting a daring midnight drive through dark moonlit roads. However, to witness live proves to be a hedonistic barrage of psychedelic rock that’ll take you to the depths of the universe and back!




Photo by Matt Johnston





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