The Magic Gang – Sound Control, Manchester – 02/05/17

Sixth-form friends and seaside inhabitants, The Magic Gang have been one of the bands helping Brighton replace Birmingham in becoming “B-Town” in the indie scene in recent years. Crafters of 60’s inspired jangly tunes, they’ve also struck a chord with the underage crowd thanks support slots with the likes of Swim Deep and Wolf Alice – an obvious statement when you realise the majority of the crowd crammed into Sound Control consists of young teens.

‘Lady, Please’ kicks things off, the opener of the first of The Magic Gang’s three EP’s. With the swirling rainbow lights and singer/guitarist Jack Kaye’s smooth vocals, we’re in safe hands from the get-go. Their live set-up is as minimal as their album artwork, a simple white banner hung behind the drums commanding us to “enjoy yourselves”. With the quartet’s cult-like following, there’s no need to tell anyone here twice; by the time ‘Jasmine’ rolls around, multiple guys are shitless, waving their tops around their heads like they’re at Wembley.

Simple, cheery pop songs have become the staple of The Magic Gang’s back catalogue. They’ve been compared to Weezer before – and with Kristian Smith’s catchy opening guitar riff in ‘All This Way’, it’s certainly going to happen again. ‘She Won’t Ghost’ and ‘Alright’ are both blasts from the past – or 2014 and 2015 respectively, to be exact. They’ve become indie anthems over the years, fan-favourites with huge choruses that form multiple mosh pits in the crowd.

Paeris Giles’ constant drumming throughout pauses is a reminder that these boys mean business. There’s no messing in between songs – no nonsense. There’s minimal chat too, but when it’s there, it’s lovingly polite. “We’re going to play a new one now, if that’s okay”, Kaye smiles, before the band break out into ‘Your Love’. The country twang of Smith’s guitar allows us to see a new side to The Magic Gang – a band that have potentially risked falling into the trap of writing very similar sounding songs at times.

With such an appreciative audience, it’s difficult to pick a highlight of the night. Perhaps it’s ‘How Can I Compete’, from March’s EP Three, its upbeat chorus vocal melody sticking in my head long after the gig. Or maybe it’s ‘All That I Want Is You’, a smooth, easy-listening number with the grooviest bassline from Angus Taylor. As 2014’s ‘No Fun’ provides a singular track encore, the set is concluded with a banger of a tune that’s so much heavier and raw live. I’ve been a Magic Gang fan from the start; with live shows like this, I won’t be stopping anytime soon.

Get yourself down to one of The Magic Gang’s remaining May shows:

4 – Leicester – Academy 2

5 – Birmingham – Academy 2

6 – Norwich- Waterfront Studio

8 – Cambridge – Portland Arms

9 – Nottingham – Rescue Rooms

10- Oxford – Academy 2

11 – St Albans – The Horn

12 – London – Heaven

19 – Brighton – The Great Escape

27 – Liverpool Sound City

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