Childhood & Sorry – Deaf Institute, Manchester – 22/11/17

Since signing to Domino, it’s become a certainty that Sorry will get big. Grunge riffs, mysterious vibes and a distinct 90’s aesthetic have helped the London quartet dominate the spotlight over the past few weeks – and live, they don’t let us down.

They’re more refined than the last time we caught them, with bassist Campbell Baum utilising the newly added synth-pad to firmly improve the set. ‘Drag King’ is moody and melancholic, with Asha Lorenz’s deadpan vocals and Louis O’Bryen’s plucked chords adding to the moodiness – but it’s debut single ‘Wished’, that packs the hardest punch, a set closer rife with raw emotion and jagged chords.

“It’s nice to see you all” Ben Romans-Hopcroft grins, as Childhood enter stage, breaking into the infectiously groovy set opener, ‘A.M.D.’

It’s safe to say that the London six-piece have matured as of late. If 2012’s Lacuna was a trance-indie affair, then Universal High is anything but. The sophomore album takes its roots from gospel choirs and 70s funk – genres that Romans-Hopcroft re-discovered after he moved back home with his mum in the intermittent years between albums.

With an air of confidence, Childhood take us through a Motown-esque journey that’s stupidly soulful and addicting enough to get the whole room moving. ‘Californian Light’ sees the band break out into a heavenly chorus, as Romans-Hopcroft directs those heartfelt lyrics to the gigantic sparkling disco ball above. Keyboardist Max Danieli-Fantin throws out some equally enviable backing vocals, his synth notes whirring the beat along.

A huge cheer breaks out as Romans-Hopcroft hits the high notes of ‘Cameo’, and a similar reception is received when the opening chords of ‘Nothing Ever Seems Right’ come to party. The six are undeniably talented on record – but live, it’s a whole new experience. They’re incredibly tight, highly skilled, and faultlessly perfect. Female backing vocals and saxophone melodies help to bring out the best of an already astounding set.

It’s time for Universal High to shine, sure – but that’s not to say that Lacuna goes neglected. ‘Blue Velvet’ is a dreamy throwback to the band’s earlier material; the soaring anthemic chorus of ‘Solemn Skies’ is everything that the crowd want. But to showcase the more mature band that Romans-Hopcroft has forged, it’s a night to focus on new material, new aesthetics – and the new Childhood.