Photo courtesy of Cabbage on Instagram
Written by: Olivia Kenny
For a long time, Cabbage have been central to Manchester’s music scene. Their typically northern attitude and socio-political outlook has become a local treasure. Having not played a headline gig in their hometown since December 2018, the band’s fans were eager to see them come back with a highly anticipated and sold-out performance at Yes last night (25 April).
The gig began with the Coronation Street theme tune, turning the heads of the crowd. It drew in the room, in an unconventional way, contrasting the classically intense tones of the five-piece, while shouting out to their Manchester roots and sense of humour.
Their latest single, released in February 2019, ‘Torture’ kicked off the night. This track is quite different from the gritty post-punk sounds fans generally associate Cabbage with. ‘Torture’ has an underlying surf tone, giving listeners early Beach Boys vibes, but instead with a dour mixture of politics and pop music, instantly identifying Cabbage. There is something about the nonchalant attitude of the band that makes the disjointed combination work. As soon as they started, the crowd were singing along, and the room was buzzing.
The next song, ‘Uber Capitalist Death Trade,’ is a classic Cabbage hit. The dirty riffs and distorted tones didn’t struggle to shake the floor of the venue as the entire room captured the fierce energy of the band. The gig went on to feature tracks from the band’s debut album ‘Nihilistic Glamour Shots,’ which was released last year. ‘Arms of Pleonexia’ and ‘Gibraltar Ape’ (an oldie which was included on the release) are two of my favourites, both showing the raw energy of the group with rumbling basslines, chopping guitar riffs and almost spoken, harsh vocals.
Cabbage then went on to dedicate a track to Piccadilly Rats star Ray Boddington, who passed away earlier this week. The song dedicated, ‘Tell Me Lies About Manchester,’ references the iconic Manchester band, who have a strong affiliation with Cabbage. A banner reading The Piccadilly Rats, resembling the one displayed behind the group when they busk, was held up during the track and tribute was shown in a truly northern fashion, with music sweat and beer–a way I’m sure Ray would be proud of.
No Cabbage gig is complete without ‘Dinner Lady,’ an anger-fuelled poem of downtrodden society, performed in an amusing way with ear worming basslines and rhyming lyrics building up to an anthemic climax. Political elements appear in most of the band’s tracks. ‘Network Betrayal’ talks about the ongoing issues with rail services; ‘Necroflat in the Palace’ supports the NHS—and closed the gig with booming chants of ‘I was born in the NHS, I wanna die in the NHS.’ Nobody in the room disagreed with the message of the song and a truly unforgettable atmosphere brought the night to an end.
Cabbage play Manchester again tonight with a sold-out show at The Deaf Institute before they head on to the rest of their UK tour.Buy Tickets cabbage / review