Friday 27 April
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
There are occasional gigs which turn an expectant Friday-night crowd into moving, seething mass of music and majesty. The audience respect the artists whilst going into the best kind of absolute chaos. This storming set by Brix & The Extricated, live at The Ruby Lounge, Manchester, was one of them. Sadly I couldn’t make the guest band Blanketman, but I heard from other audience members that they were very good indeed – a combination of intense, layered Indie with punchy darkness. I will certainly be listening to more.
Brix certainly brings a type of tantalizing aura with her to Manchester. Formerly part of The Fall (1983-89) with then-husband Mark E. Smith (who passed away earlier this year), crowds who come to watch are often peppered with fans of The Fall, fittingly so for Manchester.
But the brilliant thing about Brix & The Extricated is not only do they jam together to resurrect and re-amplify tracks from the past, but their new material is just as powerful. The band was formed back
in 2014 in Manchester, with Brix joining together with the legendary Steve Hanley on bass – one of the best of his generation. His brother Paul takes the drums.
Their sound seethes together musical mayhem with an ability to weave raucous, foot-stamping rhythms into mix. Confusion meets catchiness. Pandemonium meets prowess. Within a couple of minutes the crowd were already incensed by Hanley’s billowing bass, combined with great driving guitar from the edgily energetic Jason Brown and Steve Trafford. Strong, sustained drumming is what is needed to keep this melting pot hot, and it was certainly no problem for Hanley – adding to the gutsy glam-stomping of the occasion.
Brix took to the stage blindfolded for a burstingly-angry opener of a brand new song, not even recorded yet – Alaska. It couples deep daring groove with an element of grind to it. Her ability as a frontwoman is second-to-none, seizing every eye in the room with her bold bejewelled stare, delivering vocal volleys where every word has impact – also joining with her own atmospheric guitar edge for a number of tracks.
We were borne through the set with a bubbling mass of music – after all, four guitars on stage is sure to leave an impression. Tracks from the new album (Part 2 by Brix & The Extricated) included the anthemic, air-punching ‘Something to Lose’ and the sexy, innuendo-soaked ‘Valentino’, Brix reaching into the audience – holding eye contact, hands, the heat of the moment.
A diversity of songs from The Fall were brought in with artful timing – working the room up into a frenzy. ‘Dead Beat Descendant’ was delivered with gutsy whomp, whilst ‘US 80s 90s’ maintained the drifting bliss built into the original, combined with live growl. ‘Totally Wired’ was a sonic surge of satisfying creative chaos– and considering this was an evening which saw two young women in the crowd crash onto the stage, the mood was wickedly wired too.
But on bursting on stage, there was a slight shift in mood as a security guard waded in and attempted to get the women down – all the time the ongoing, energised musical jam adding to the sense of sweet confusion. There were boos and hisses from the crowd as the women were warded off, only for Brix to enter into the next track with ‘where are those girls? Bring back those girls!’
With the young women back on stage, Brix sending searing waves of guitar into an encore of The Fall’s Big New Prinz from their 1988 Kurious Oranj LP (With earlier Fall track Hip Priest segued in the middle) layered with love and riding riffs– this was no ordinary set, but a celebration. It’s no co-incidence that Brix’s autobiography is called ‘The Rise, The Fall and The Rise’, because this was an ongoing high. Brilliant.
Photography, with thanks to Georgina Robinson
Words by Emily Oldfield