WE REVIEW BLEACH BOY IN MANCHESTER, WHAT HAPPENED?
SUPPORTS FROM Pray For Mojo + Deh Yey
No rest for the wicked as straight off the back of the fabulous Rockaway Beach weekender down in sunny (dear reader, it was NOT) Bognor, your reviewer finds himself heading off into Manchester and the Band on The Wall to take in Sabotage’s latest offering, comprising Chester’s Deh Yey, Warrington’s Pray For Mojo and the force of nature that is Bleach Boy.
First up, Deh Yeh. The last time I’d seen these chaps was back in October at the Peer Hat, supporting the now sadly defunct Byker Grove Fan Club. I’d liked what I’d heard then, and unlike a 16-year-old looking forward to another 2 years of maths, I was eager for more.
A grungey, garage, punk metal duo comprising of Cash Burns on guitar/vocals/everything else and Tom Maude drumming as though his life depended upon it and inspired by the likes of Gilla Band, IDLES, Black Midi, Future of The Left and Shame, they follow a procession of two-pieces (JOHN spring to mind) who have to work just that little bit harder to fill all the musical spaces in the way that a larger line-up would possibly handle more comfortably.
Thankfully, this is no challenge to the pair as they launch into an energetic 7 song set opening with All or Nothing, with Cash shouting through a megaphone as though he’s announcing the imminent Apocalypse. This set is going to take NO prisoners. Loser kicks off with a riff that would convince you that IDLES had paid a surprise visit while your back was turned. Next up are their most recent single How to Stop a Terrorist and Brand-New Shirt which I swear is channelling Killing Joke in there somewhere (check with your parents, younglings).
Next up is I Am Cock/I Am Result (depending on how far back in the song’s history you go), which deals with the story of a foster child becoming an institutionalised criminal(!), followed by early release Danephesians 4:31, which, to set the scene, involves the worrying image of Jesus appearing on the Jeremy Kyle Show, and which was one of the two tracks they contributed to an EP with Restless Bear labelmates Gravves some time back.
Whilst you can hear lots of influences in their sound, the themes they cover in their lyrics including US gun law and phone addiction are FAR from conventional.
The set concludes with the wonderfully titled I Am Tommy Robinson. If you get the chance to go see these guys, please do so. They’re loud, for sure, but behind the volume dial are challenging themes that are definitely worth a second listen. AND they play without a setlist too!
Next up, Pray for Mojo. Proud to hail from Warrington, their bio describes them as “Merging psychedelia with a range of sounds including garage rock, doom, prog and more.” Always up for a bit of doom (and in a very real sense, readers, aren’t we all?), I’d seen them supporting Deja Vega at Darwen’s excellent Sunbird Records between Christmas and New Year, but had possibly paid a bit too much attention to my photography (occupational hazard), so I was determined to give them a fairer crack of the whip this time round. I’m glad I did.
Having already supported A Lucid Dream at Yes’s famous Pink Room in October ‘21 and headlined The Castle Hotel back in April ’22, (as well as the aforementioned Deja Vega support slot), Pray for Mojo are familiar faces in the venues of the North West. Greg Dixon and Christian Monaghan (who’s also responsible for the band’s artwork) both take on guitar/vocal duties which gives the songs a greater vocal scope, ably complemented by Craig Harman on bass and Matthew Earl on drums.
Tonight’s seven set song includes a selection from January 2022 album, “Welcome to Mojopia” – think King Gizzard, Goat, The Osees or Queens of The Stone Age and you’re at least heading in the right direction. Being able to more than hold their own as a rock band, they frequently surprise with sidesteps into psychedelia-based instrumentation, making for an interesting and expansive sound.
Closing a set that includes album bed mates Waiting for the Why and Landslide, Salvador sets off at a ferocious pace and benefits from the flexibility of having two vocalists who harmonise with gusto whilst the appreciative crowd are whipped up into a mosh of some intensity, much to the mixed enjoyment and terror of your reviewer who’s right at the front, waiting to be mashed (or possibly moshed) into the stage.
Pray for Mojo are a band whose progress is to be monitored with interest. I’m glad I put the camera away and listened properly second time around. I suspect there may be a third.
And so, to headliners Bleach Boy who weren’t a band I’d encountered on my travels previously, so there was the anticipation of listening to someone for the first time and Bleach Boy certainly didn’t disappoint. Assorted members of locals DeafDeafDeaf were in the crowd too – always a good sign when other bands turn up to watch you!
They describe themselves as a grungey, post-punk band, hailing from different parts of the UK. Think IDLES, think Gilla Band, think Surfbort and your journey to Bleach Boy enlightenment has begun, grasshopper (ask an older relative). They comprise Milo (from Nottingham) on vocals/guitar, Tommi (from Sheffield) on guitar, Cian (Birmingham) on drums and Sam (Nottingham) on bass but although they don’t come from Manchester, that’s where they’re now based. They got together in 2017 (how they all stumbled across each other is probably a story in itself, but perhaps for another time) and started rehearsing in a damp Manchester basement (is there any other sort?) and via first single Death Row, 2020’s Lonesum and the more recent four track Walk EP, three of which feature in tonight’s set, they are here tonight.
They’re really hard to pigeonhole and this is probably no bad thing. I’m sure I hear all sorts of ghosts from my past echoing through, with guitar sounds of early Cure (possibly due to Tommi’s use of a Jazz Chorus amp of the type favoured by Mr Smith) and The Chameleons right the way through Nirvana and The Pixies, all backed up with IDLES-influenced vocal delivery and riffage. Milo switches effortlessly between melancholy, despair, anger and all the way back again. Cian and Sam, in the best tradition of drums and bass keep the Bleach behemoth rolling relentlessly, allowing Milo stage right (and by now shirtless) to deliver his powerful vocals whilst Tommi stage left complements Milo’s guitarwork.
Next, Sam O’Leary takes to the stage to reprise (for the first time in a live performance, apparently) his role in the “Jamie’s Birthday” video, which you really need to see. It is as disturbing as it is unexpected and I suspect it won’t be the last time this will be experienced The Sam/Jamie hybrid thrusts vigorously at the crowd who yell back in appreciation of the erotic floorshow being played out before them. It’s an image that will stay with me for a long time, and possibly not for the right reasons, but fair play to him.
The mosh has grown considerably by this time and the crowd are fully engaged with Bleach Boy’s message, even if they may not fully understand what it is, not that this really seems to matter to anybody. Milo asks the crowd to take care of each other, especially as there’s broken glass making the floor a hazardous place by this point, before ploughing down into their midst and miraculously making it back to the safety of the stage some minutes later. They’re joined on stage by their roadie Armod, who takes keyboard duties for one song before the set concludes with a rousing Amen.
The crowd filter out exhausted and the guys congratulate each other with the sense of a job well done. There’s a lot to like about Bleach Boy and I suspect I’ll be back the next time they’re back to clean up the mean streets of Manchester.
The next Sabotage dates for your diary are Italia 90/Fraulein at Yes Basement Sat 4th Feb and Duvet/Hank/Umarells at The Castle Hotel on Sat 25th of Feb.