The prospect of going to watch a live band is typically formulaic. It is based on tradition and what has come before. But little is typical about an act whose almost annum-old debut single is titled to proclaim ‘We Are The Freaks’. Never was a freak so cool.
Mangle Street. Home to waste bins and a notable absence of street art, the band note the appropriate naming of the back street as they quickly put what it means to be ‘a freak’ down to appearance, as Luke Thompson (vocals) and Jack Mattison (keyboards/vocals) joke that “you have to look deranged.”
Dressing traditionally and resonating quintessentially English eccentricity, the band confess the influence of cinema, literature and art on their visuals, “it’s both organic and conscious,” notes Luke.
“We wanted to do something theatrical and bring something new out of ourselves, and the best way to do that was to bring these ideas to the forefront,” adds Nathan Francey (bass).
As Luke continues, “those cinematic sounds and that ethereal projection come from the new bass and double keyboard.”
A Leeds band frequenting the Manchester scene, they discuss the “uniqueness” of the city’s music. “Each [Mancunian] venue has its own character, hasn’t it? Manchester has a fresh take on what a venue can be. We like the buzz that we get here,” says Jack.
“Every venue we’ve played here has been massively different,” notes Nathan. “The Deaf Institute compared to Jimmy’s. Everywhere’s got its own different vibe.”
“Leeds has versatility; it’s not got a sound. There’s a lot of bands that are always trying to do something new and different, rather than follow a trend as such. Whatever venue you go to in Leeds, you’re always going to find something that’s of a different quality,” concludes Luke.
Skip forward to tonight’s headline show at Manchester venue Jimmy’s, where an opening performance from Level 7 Event does little to sway the gathering numbers towards the unknown, but fuses rap, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll to activate a welcoming energy.
They are followed by Kosmonauts, a Mancunian indie-rock quartet set on shaking the room with a shudder. The tracks’ quick tempos and showcase drums, zoom sonics about the stage with slaps and strokes, as the band exhibit themselves as a tight ball of indie rock fizz, solidifying a reputation as ‘one to watch’ for sure.
The Opera Comic stride to the stage like an archaism trapped in a time machine, as they splash an introduction of cinematic and literary influence on the platform, masquerading in theatrics to deftly conceal their pop-rock pulse.
We’re confronted by a travelling circus with sound crystal ball delights, as they fuse grit into pop, uncertainly disguised as a Dickens villain. Their fluent set paints them as characters each in turn, parade-marching cool to Victorian England and back, with ‘A Time Of Hope’ exposing glittery melodies and substantial percussive pound.
Guitar and keyboard harmonics are utilised to the full, driven by aggressive drum and bass to uplift a colourful Yorkshire voice, dubbed on chic shrieks and meat beats.
‘Almost Heaven’ is titled well, spilling heartfelt desperation from Luke Thompson’s vocal bite, yet activating bass guitar exhibitionism in equal measure.
They are heavy with heart when it is asked of them, but never in lack of six-string shine to sparkle their sound into a dream discovered. The size of Jimmy’s stage limits them, frustrating their expansive expression into clarifying that the quintet would blossom in bigger rooms of more theatrical charm, all the while catering for their energy with a homely character.
The Opera Comic take you away on a magical trip, but back in time for tea, as fan favourite ‘We Are The Freaks’ diagnoses the beauty of difference.
The Opera Comic’s new single ‘A Time Of Hope’ is out now. Purchase exclusive bundles and merchandise here.