Manchester Gorilla Thursday, March 29th 2017.
After their conception as the mythical band in the Eccentronic Research Council concept album Johnny Rocket, Narcissist & Music Machine, glam punks The Moonlandingz have become a bone fide successful, tangible group. Having played several shows in late 2016, the release of the Sean Lennon-produced album Interplanetary Class Classics sees the oddball bunch on the road again.
Opening the night in Manchester were local girls (or, dare we say, grrls) Witch Fever. An aggressive mix of raw punk energy (think The Slits married to The Damned), they certainly turn the heads of those early enough to catch them at the sold out Gorilla. As in-your-face as they possibly could be, the band exude confidence. In their music, as well as their sexuality. They have every right to be, too, as for 30 minutes or so they owned the stage and were incredibly captivating and entertaining. Clearly having the time of their lives, vocalist Amy-Hope Walpole removing her top during the final song Dictum felt a little jarring at first. Until one sits and realises it wasn’t done for the titillation (pun intended) of the crowd, but as an expression of freedom. We need bands to challenge perceptions, and if Witch Fever can maintain their integrity, they will be a force to be reckoned with.
By contrast, main support Goat Girl is shoegazingly static. Marred by a muddy sound and apathetic audience (rather full by now), they were something of a comedown following the frantic energy of Witch Fever.
By the time The Moonlandingz hit the stage, the place is packed and the atmosphere electric. They are introduced tonight by actor Maxine Peake (who played the obsessed narrator on the Eccentronic Research Council album) and ‘Mick Hucknall’ (you had to be there, really). The band launch into Vessels with frontman Johnny Rocket (Fat White Family’s Lias Saoudi) sporting his trademark bread bangles and smeared make-up/marker pen face. For the next 50 minutes, the crowd doesn’t stand still. Jumping into the crowd during Black Hanz, Rocket keeps the arrogant rock star persona throughout, a glorious pastiche of every cliché one could imagine. But it works perfectly. It’s no piss take, despite starting as a fake band; they are definitely the real deal. Even slower songs such as The Strangle of Anna cause a minor commotion in the pit in front of the stage.
The groove sleaze of Glory Hole has Rocket channel Marilyn Manson at his most depraved. Backed by Slow Club singer Rebecca Taylor, it’s a sultry and debauched spectacle that is instantly compelling.
As the band build up to more of frenzy and then suddenly – they are gone. No encore, very little in the way of goodbyes. Swaggering off as arrogantly as they arrived. And it’s magnificent.
If their debut album shows The Moonlandingz promise as being the future of anarchic electro-punk, then their live show cements it.
The Moondlandingz return to play Oxford The Bullingdon on April 19th, followed by slots at Live at Leeds (April 29th), The Great Escape, Brighton (May 18th), Glastonbury Festival in June and Bluedot Festival at Jodrell Bank in July.
The Moonlandingz setlist: Vessels/Black Hanz/Sweet Saturn Mine/Neuf De Pape/IDS/The Strangle of Anna/Rabies/The Glory/Lufthansa Man/The Cities Undone/Lay Your Head Down On The Road/Man In Me Lyfe.