Featured Image: Piran Aston
Covid may have prevented the majority of festivals and gigs from going ahead and dictated the direction of the ‘new normal’, however, Brighton-based band Squid, managed to thrive on the enigmatic energy powering their experimental music – navigating the newfound challenges with ease.
An instrumental drum beat added to the anticipation before the band could take to the stage at Manchester’s Stoller Hall, which offered a modern and well-lit stage, as well as a theatrical quality for the band to make their own. The venue’s high ceilings provided incredible acoustics which Squid used to their advantage. Before the band could perform some of their best tracks from their recently released album, Bright Green Field, and introduce the audience to some unreleased tracks, the atmospheric music, and flashing pink and blue lights piqued the audience’s interest.
The crowd may have been separated and had their faces covered due to face coverings but as they cheered due to the band’s arrival on stage, it was clear that the band and the audience were united for the first live concert since March 2020. Lead vocalist and drummer Ollie Judge, noted: “Such a professional introduction, I love that!”
Known for their creativity, they had an array of instruments in their arsenal to push all musical boundaries. The sound of the cello was the backbone, always tying their wonderfully unsettling symphonies together, as well as powerful brass elements too. A band made up of multi-instrumentalists can only surprise the ears. The first section of their set was dedicated to whimsical yet perfectly executed instrumentals, evoking anything but Ross Geller’s ‘The Sound’.
The audience was bopping to their fourth track from their debut album, ‘Paddling’ which boasted a frenzied guitar and the cocktail of instruments blended to perfection, and the echoing of “Don’t push me”, only intensified their set.
Midway through, Judge reminded us that they were, “playing lots of new songs tonight”. The new tracks were woven seamlessly into the set and continued the trend of the band utilising a variety of percussion including a cowbell and other equipment which you may not have seen since Year 6 music. Their passion for their craft manifested in their expressive playing and the brass elements gave their music a jazz-edge, contrasting with the indie-rock fuelled numbers as heard earlier.
Judge noted, “It’s so weird seeing the auditorium so full it’s like we haven’t sold the show very well”, however, in normal circumstances they’d easily have been faced with a sold-out show. Their debut album entered the UK album charts at Number 4 and ‘Narrator’ is getting close to 1 million streams on Spotify.
‘G.S.K’ was another track which was well-received and brass impressively added and Judge’s voice carried. It has to be noted, however, that usually the drummer is hidden behind the rest of the band. Each member was equally lined up in full view and their diverse range of instrumentals proves that they’re anything but all the gear and no idea.
The closing tracks were the favourites from Bright Green Field, ‘Narrator’ and ‘Pamphlets’. ‘Narrator’ began with a fast-paced riff and thumping drums acting as a war cry. Their usual final track, ‘Pamphlets’, carried the relentless energy with gusto. With each repetition of “That’s why I don’t go outside”, Judge picked up his voice. It also featured gongs, which are traditionally used for celebrations, which made their inclusion quite right.
As the band thanked the audience for coming, it was fitting that the outro track was musical pioneer Elton John’s, ‘Your Song’. Comparisons can be drawn between them, as they are both rule-breakers and have used their lyrics to comment on the world around them with flair – however, perhaps it’s their unpredictable nature that has and will continue to capture the attention of audiences for years to come.
RESCHEDULED 2020 TOUR
Mon 12 Brighton Chalk
Tue 13 Southampton Joiners
Wed 14 Oxford Bullingdon
Thu 15 London Scala
Sat 17 Manchester White Hotel
Sun 18 Hebden Bridge Trades Club
Mon 19 Edinburgh Summerhall
Tue 20 York Crescent
Mon 26 Birmingham Castle & Falcon
Tue 27 Bedford Esquires
Wed 28 Norwich Arts Centre
BRIGHT GREEN FIELD HEADLINE TOUR
Tue 07 Brighton Concorde 2
Thu 09 Bristol Marble Factory
Fri 10 Manchester Albert Hall
Thu 23 London Printworks
Fri 24 Birmingham Crossing
Sat 25 Nottingham Rock City
Mon 27 Newcastle NUSU Basement
Tue 28 Glasgow SWG 3
Wed 29 Belfast Empire
Thu 30 Dublin Button Factory
Sun 03 Cardiff Tramshed
Mon 04 Southampton 1865
Tue 05 Exeter Phoenix
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