LIVE REVIEW: The Vryll Society + Hidden Charms at Gorilla, Manchester

As South London quartet Hidden Charms embrace the stage tonight, adorned in eye-catching retro fashions, it’s easy to worry this band could be throwback style over substance. Whilst it’s easy to see the groups 60s rock influence of The Kinks and The Beatles to The Stones in their dress, Hidden Charms certainly rip it up and start again when it comes to their substance of killer sound. Combining the catching psych-pop of Temples with the thunderous rock-funk of The Black Keys, Hidden Charms erupt a sound of something new. And it’s a mere complimentary bonus that the group look the stylish part whilst doing so.

With a helter-skelter spiral of psych winding guitar, ‘Left Hand Man’ slides us into the group’s thunderous rock and soul. Dark psych-rock patters a callous catching beat, as gritty soulful vocals ooze a grasping pop hook; “I’ll be by your side, meet me in the night, I’ll be your right hand man…”

‘Love You Cause You’re There’ sounds a Black Keys-esque blues with an endearing attitude. The bass oozes and ripples a deep shudder of soul-swallowing intoxication. Lead singer Vincent Davies roars with blues-laden beauty, whilst sweet tinkering spooks of ‘lalala’ from backing vocals tingle a softer bewitching contrast.

Covering Captain Beefheart’s ‘Party Of Special Things To Do’, Hidden Charms openly embrace their Jack White-inspired impressive bass boom, (The White Stripes slayed an equally cutting cover back in 2000). Tearing it up with no apprehension, the cover strikes an invigoratingly scuzzy malice.


A switch of arrangement sees us treated to the voice of keyboardist Ranald Macdonald in the forefront for some of the set. His voice cooly contrasts the soulful-roar of frontman Davies’, as Macdonald adopts a Johnny Borrell purr with a sinister edge.

‘Canonball’ beholds the indie-dance floor funk of a Hot Chip track, thumping a contagious groove with all the eagerness of a Friday night.

Proving to have more than one string to their bow, ‘Harder From Here’ slows us down to a soft blues. Macdonald slides offstage and into the crowd to a shimmer of guitar…Where is he going? The crowd puzzles. He pulls out a harmonica and adds a carefully captivating touch to Hidden Charms’ most charming track. From below stage and amongst the crowd the harmonica floats a filling and soaring sound.

From smooth and soulful oozing grooves to pumping rock that can whip up a dance floor frenzy, Hidden Charms arrestingly captivate. Closing with an electrifying ‘I Just Wanna Be Left Alone’, Hidden Charms’ rumble is fiery and heavy contemporary rock and roll. Combining elements of glittering psych-pop with heavy rocking bass and a red-hot attitude, Hidden Charms are a forceful talent to observe.


Gratefully simmering us down a notch with a blissed out ecstasy, The Vryll Society’s set marks the Liverpool band as fast developing and endowed psych-rock extraordinaires. Managed by Deltasonic Records (home to The Coral, The Zutons) the band take experimental rock to self-absorbing heights. The group who have been described as “rock meets electronic realms of Krautrock” beholds all the fascinating spontaneity of jazz, enthralling with encompassing live spirit. For fans of Pond, to Allah-Las and Tame Impala, The Vryll Society offers a similar sophisticated psych-rock enthused catharsis on the ear. 

We dive into a deep swimming pool of cooling tranquillity with opener ‘Beautiful Faces’. A cascade of spooling guitars hum a purifying command, as lead singer Micheal Ellis dances with captivating frontman grace. Sprouting engaging movement like a budding lotus flower, Ellis flails his body in an elegant performance, grasping the mic and swishing his blonde mop of hair from side to side he loses all inhibition and dedicates his body to sound. “So many beautiful faces, all you gotta do is love…” he cooly reels, calling us to join him in an immersing resonance.

With a divine glow of yellow-gold light flooding the stage, ‘Cosh’ ripples out in mind-frazzling vibrant waves. In slow motion, Ellis monkey-man dances like a smouldering Ian Brown figure to the blissful indie-dance funk. The Vryll Society invites us into a healing light, with both the warmth of their unblemished sound and the burning yellow-gold stage lights. “The light will heal you…” chants Ellis.


Colliding classic pop writing with their bewitching tentative sound, ‘A Perfect Rhythm’ (the band’s latest single) is delivered in enchanting hit-worthy form. Ellis elegantly plants a hook: “I need some space cos they’re hard to find… A perfect rhythm going through my mind…” A Stone Roses shuffling groove on drums, beats the track into underlying familiar strokes of indie-funk, whilst a Horrors-esque avant-garde approach adds a unique catching flare.

Lyrically inspired by Buddhist philosophy and realism to surrealism, ‘Self Realisation’ sees The Vryll Society push the crowd to venture further into self-discovering realms. A short softly sighed phrase from Ellis is repeatedly soul stirring, “silent revolution, self realization...”

Closing with their 2015 debut single ‘Deep Blue Skies’, the track still hasn’t lost its elevating climax. The prevalent song has somewhat matured and developed in the light of acclaim. Adding a live extra of unplanned charm Ellis patters I-Monster’s ‘Daydream In Blue’’s familiar melody, “Daydream, I fell asleep beneath the flowers, for a couple of hours, what a wonderful day…” in a mash up over ‘Deep Blue Skies’ intricate instrumental depth and pacifyingly cosmic realms.


Washing us not just with an intoxicating breeze of intertwining guitar arrangement, but with therapeutic words and an enchanting presence, The Vryll Society takes us on a path to enlightenment. The Liverpool group lull the mind to peace and take us off this tumultuous planet for a brief solitary interlude. Cleverly combining contagious indie melody with the gentle sophistication of experimental psych, this band is due to transcend to ethereal heights of recognition.

Live shots courtesy of Gaz Jones – Follow on Twitter and Facebook for more updates.

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