+ Phoebe Green
@ The Deaf Institute, Manchester
24th January 2018
Words: Victoria Hicks
Hidden just off Oxford Road in Manchester, The Deaf Institute is an old but quirky venue, becoming increasingly popular with upcoming acts. With a massive disco ball illuminating the room and old hi-fi speakers on the wall above the bar, it’s got an intriguing appeal to it. I’m currently nestled at the back of the room in the seated area, and honestly very excited to hear the acts tonight.
Up first is Phoebe Green, who I’m surprised to learn studies at my university, BIMM Manchester…I thought I recognised quite a few people in the audience. Phoebe Green has already had a lot of success as a young artist, with Spotify putting her song ‘Sagittarius’ on their indie playlist in 2017 and gaining a total of 1.4 million streams on Spotify for her album ‘02:00am’.
She comes on stage and performs this enchanting, heady, hippy, indie music that she channels with such laidback ease. Her song ‘Sagittarius’, which gained so much popularity on Spotify, swirls around the room as she effortlessly hits all the right notes and simultaneously ensures she’s the centre of attention. When I say effortlessly, I genuinely mean that- it’s as though her vocals just spill out of her mouth consistently in the right notes and key. Music is her second nature. Whilst still being young, songs such as ‘Seeing Double’ and ‘High’ are perfect examples of why Phoebe Green should be watched very closely this year as an upcoming artist.
The music hall is now jam-packed, with everyone waiting on New York band, Cults, to make tonight their own.
Playing behind them on two rectangular screens, is a video of technicolour circles, with hands raised up to the sky- a nod to the artwork on their recent album, ‘Offering’. What is depicted through the projector changes for each song.
Cults follow the same strain of indie that Phoebe Green performed, yet Cults provide a more upbeat, synth heavy indie-pop, something you would listen to whilst laying on the grass on a warm summers day. Their second song ‘Abducted’ combines deep male vocals with front-woman Madeline Follins’s high pitched, heavily reverbed vocals, to create a contrast in the middle of the song that works so perfectly. Cult’s music is almost dreamy, but it’s so well thought out and sounds so professional and clean live.
You get a lot of bands in today’s music scene who are described as ‘indie’ or ‘indie-pop’, yet there are few which put their own stamp on it. Cult’s is that band. They deliver more of an experience than just a gig, something to play on your senses. ‘Always Forever’ and new song ‘I Took Your Picture’ are two of my favourites from the evening. Watching from the back and having their beautiful music all around, making it feel like you’re watching them in a movie.
In music, there can be such thing as too much reverb on vocals, yet the level that Madeline has on hers actually enhances them, bringing out the sweetness in her voice and making each note melt into the music.
‘This is a rock n roll song’ declares Brian Oblivion, before the band launches into ‘I Can Hardly Make You Mine’. It’s noticeably different to their other songs from this evening, with Madeline becoming fiercer, channelling a Debbie Harry-esque vibe. It’s a brief song but shows just how much Cults have to offer as a band. If they went down a more rock n roll path, they could really make that work and find a lot of success with it.
With the gain still running, the crowd is eager for an encore. Final song ‘Go Outside’ is a cheerful little number, and gets the crowd moving, who have been in awe of Cults the entire gig, too enchanted to move or avert their eyes.
‘We promise we’ll come back sooner this time’- and with that, the gain fades out and Cults disappear, leaving a good impression on not just me, but every person in the room.