The Soup Kitchen, Manchester
Last time I saw Miki Berenyi fronting a band on stage it was in a draughty, half empty Manchester Academy, mopping up a rescheduled final gig for the short lived Lush reunion which appeared to have ended rather abruptly.
Lush, hats off to them, honoured the booking and Mick Conroy of Modern English was drafted in as a last minute replacement for Phil King but…it had the vibe of a party where someone has started mopping up spilled drinks waiting for people to go home. The Merch stand were having a Fire Sale…you can guess the rest.
Happily – it seems working with Mick lit a new spark and 3 of this final line-up of Lush (Berenyi, Conroy and former Elastica Drummer Justin Welch) have re-emerged with a whole new band and they’re joined by former Moose guitarist KJ “Moose” McKillop. I’ll refrain from calling them a 90s Indie Supergroup because that would be terribly crass, not least because they’ve made some effort not to sound like their former bands and this is a fresh start.
The venue is yer typical indie grotspot the members of Piroshka will feel very familiar with, but it’s full, and from the off the band are well up for it and it’s impossible not to be swept along with their visible glee – no pent-up nostalgic expectations to fulfill, no old songs to reenact so band and audience are free to just enjoy the ourselves. The core of Piroshka are boosted to a 6 piece with a backing vocalist and keyboard player expanding the soundstage (sorry didn’t catch the names). The material from debut ‘Brickbat’ is mighty fine indeed, Post-punkier and more aggressive than you might from musicians we associate with “shimmering shards of cerebral majesty” but there are big soundscapes, lots of texture and depth here as well which should put any 4AD nerds in their happy place, especially when Miki strikes up that FX-pedalled 12 string guitar. I’m not normally one to go on about ‘chops’ and musicianship but I’m impressed by how well Piroshka gel, they sound like they’ve been at this for years and there are several moments where things go particularly stratospheric. Conroy and Welch make for a formidable, locked in rhythm section – Welch in particular plays like he’s headlining the main stage at Glastonbury and it’s a thrill to watch everyone work at close quarters. Guitarist Moose reminds me how much I loved his playing on his old records (whatever happened to them?). Thoroughly enjoyable, expansive noisy pop thrills and I’m looking forward to more Brickbats from them.
Full of smart, sassy folk. Very appreciative and gave the band their first encore!
It made me think..
Piroshka are touring UK and Europe for the next few weeks – go and see them, they may well be coming to your town.