Dutch Uncles – The Dancehouse, Manchester – 15/03/2017

“Make me swoon like a big balloon” Dutch Uncles’ frontman Duncan Wallis intones on the title track of their new album. The song is the Maple art-rockers’ biggest banger since 2013’s ‘Flexxin’. It’s a song that grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let you go; a technique the band also employ at tonight’s show at Manchester’s Dancehouse.

The Dancehouse is usually a venue reserved for, well, dancing. Luckily Dutch Uncles bring some serious moves with them for this homecoming show, and by the end have the entire audience busting shapes that could generously be described as ‘interpretative’. They have the tunes to boot too. Fortified by rip-roaring additions from Big Balloon, the set draws from all five of their records, including the resurrection of some old favourites.

I have to enjoy opening salvo ‘Baskin’’ and ‘Bellio’ from downstairs, due to some issues with seat allocation, and the show is already in full swing when I finally make into the theatre, with the band blasting out the title track of 2011’s Cadenza. ‘Hiccup’ from Big Balloon follows, before a somewhat untamed version of personal favourite ‘Decided Knowledge’.

In fact, ‘untamed’ sums up the Dutch Uncles live experience fairly aptly. You go expecting a slick, polite pop show, and you get a hell-for-leather tour-de-force. Wallis is in buoyant form throughout. He admitted to not always enjoying hometown shows in an interview the previous evening (to be published next week), but he seems to having a whale of a time. He dedicates the song ‘Babymaking’ to some friends who have just gotten engaged, and re-christens guitarist Peter Broadhead as ‘panto Pete’. And then there’s the aforementioned dancing. Even more impressive perhaps, anatomically speaking, than Wallis’ flailing limbs, is the movement of bassist Robin Richards’ knees. They even receive their own heckle!

The audience are finally on the feat as the band air their debut single, 2008’s ‘Face In’, but only after they twist and turn their way through the magnificent ‘Same Plane Dream’. “I’m glad you didn’t stand up during that one” remarks Wallis, “as it about the Tories cutting disability benefits.” They conclude their main set at a breakneck pace with ‘Big Balloon’.

We’re treated to a rousing rendition of ‘Flexxin’ in the encore, after some bizarre curtain antics (rock bands don’t usually get to play venues with curtains, to be fair). Panto Pete is running up and down the isles, and it suddenly feels like a huge party. ‘Dressage’ closes proceedings in raucous fashion. There is a full stage invasion, and Wallis speaks for everyone when he says he doesn’t want it to end. Dutch Uncles make us all swoon tonight.

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