Wand – Soup Kitchen, Manchester – 27/01/18

“It’s been forever since we played Manchester” Corey Hanson admits to the sold-out Soup Kitchen crowd. “We cut it short last time, showing up just in time – but you can thank Marc Riley for that one!”

Thanks to their frenzied live reputation and four spellbinding albums under their belts – the most recent being 2017’s delectable Plum – Wand’s cult following has earned the Californian quintet a devoted fan base that’s utterly infatuated with their sound. Those lucky enough to also catch the band during Golem’s 2015 promo tour will have immediately clocked that despite the venue remaining the same, tonight there is indeed changes; the addition of vocalist/synth-player Sofia Arreguin has slowly transitioned Wand from their doom-rock, Ganglion Reef roots into more psychedelic territory.

The Sabbath-style guitar twangs of instrumental opener ‘High Rise’ instantly hit the crowd with that notoriously mesmerising sound. Evan Burrows’ drums sync faultlessly with Lee Landey’s deep bass riffs, fusing together to provide a stomping number that bursts with attitude.

The additional piano chords in ‘1000 days’ create something truly melodic, with Arreguin’s backing vocals giving Hanson’s country-like chords an undeniable boost. Latest single ‘Bee Karma’ calls for some severe mass-crowd participation as the escalating riff – faintly reminiscent of Pablo Honey-era Radiohead – does well to excite.

There’s little room for old material when newer tracks are embraced, with ‘Blue Cloud’ and ‘Charles de Gaulle’ allowing Robert Cody to work his magic on the guitar – but it’s ‘Floating Head’ and ‘Flying Golem’ that enable Wand to sound their absolute fullest, two numbers that offer a rare glimpse of those earlier – and albeit, heaver – days. Their energy is constantly on the cusp of breaking out, held back by Hanson’s reverb-laden whispers, but the fiercer the five, the more ecstatic the crowd become.

As Wand wrap up with crooning killer ‘Melted Rope’ that’s arguably their best song to date, it’s evident that Hanson and co have worked tirelessly to broaden their artistic horzions and push their boundaries to the limit. It’s a sad site to watch them depart from the stage – but there’s no doubt that every person in the room is already waiting impatiently for their return.