It’s been 21 years since the release of the Manchester duo Lamb’s debut album and so for this special anniversary tour they are performing two sets – the first being the whole of this first album, in order.
After final checks by the crew, Andy Barlow comes on stage followed by the wonderful Lou Rhodes who is wearing an otherworldly headdress and flowing gown that makes her look like an autumnal fairy. They drop straight into the first track of the night ‘Lusty’ and as she starts to sing, her costume is not at all out of place. Andy and Lou are backed up throughout the night by drums, violin and two original performers from the album – double-bassist Jon Thorne and trumpeter Kevin Davy.
‘Lusty’ sets the tempo well with its classic beats and by the time the jazzy double bass starts off ‘Cottonwool’ the crowd are clearly in the mood. The band take us through ‘Trans Fatty Acid’ and then stop for a chat, allowing Lou to introduce the musicians and welcome us to the first of their special UK homecoming gigs – their tour took them to Europe and they’ll heading back out after their four dates here.
Andy leaves the stage for the fifth track ‘Zero’ which is a whole other journey. The crowd are fixated as the muted plucked notes of the violin, the double bass and Lou’s ethereal voice take us for a well-placed melancholic bath. After this, Andy comes back out for the next song ‘Merge’, an instrumental number with crisp trumpet licks that lift our spirits and take us through into the light.
Next up is the popular ‘Gold’ (appropriately lit in deep golden light), then ‘Closer’ and their 1997 single ‘Gorecki’. The downbeat intro has us fixed before the beat sets in and gets us all moving. Andy moves across the stage and plays the drum that has been sitting at the front, giving us a raw tribal drop that we love. Lamb seem to be going on a journey of great emotions and we are all there with them. After an hour, they close the first set with ‘Feela’ – the final track of the album – which is accompanied on stage by a musical saw. The cries of the saw played by the violinist suit the ghostly tone of the lyrics and give us six minutes of bliss.
After this they all leave for an interval, during which Andy comes back on stage and speaks to the crowd. He really engages with us and it feels intimate to hear about where they are at as a band and the origin story of how he and Lou met 21 years ago – he was in a recording studio in Manchester when he got the call from Lou who said “My name’s Lou and I heard you’re a bit strange for some people”. It makes the connection they have formed during the first set even stronger.
They kick off the second part of the night with ‘Angelica’, an instantly recognisable track from the 2003 album ‘Between Darkness And Wonder’ that gets everyone moving. At this point of the night we are all still totally immersed and Lamb show no signs of easing off. The punchy synths come in for the intro on ‘Little Things’ and by the time the beat drops everyone is raving.
Next, we get a few new songs off their 2014 album ‘Backspace Unwind’ and the upbeat vibe of ‘We Fall In Love’ really fits the mood of the crowd. Nobody seems burnt out as they’ve really chosen their set well, bringing us up to some decent peaks and letting us breathe in between with the slower more downbeat tracks.
Lou’s beautiful voice doesn’t falter all evening and it really holds all the talent on the stage together. They let us rest with the well-received ‘As Satellites Go By’ which kicks in with a great bridge that teases us up then gently brings us back down for the last verse, only to drop in with the upbeat minimal track ‘Backspace Unwind’. They have created a wonderful mood in the club. The final song of the set is their brand new single ‘Illumina’ which was released just ahead of the tour – a great track that everyone loves already.
After nearly two hours they’ve laid down two great sets and everyone is charged in the now hot and sweaty Concorde2. They leave the stage briefly and the massive applause and foot-stomping bring the band back to play an encore of ‘Gabriel’. A great choice for the close, it lulls us back down to reality before all the musicians take a bow and leave.
Concorde2, Thursday 12th October 2017
Words and photos by Sam Sesemann