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Photography: Jamie Sherwood

The Magic Gang

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  • The Orielles
I Love Live Events @ O2 Academy 3/10/18

As the smell of dangerously cheap lager and teenage pheromones lingers in the air, you could be forgiven for presuming that you have arrived at the wrong address and found yourself caught up in the middle of a freshers’ week party. However, the room is not about to be filled with the thumping basslines that seem to dictate university life, but with the mellow tones of the UK’s new brand of indie. For a city as culturally rich as Liverpool, you can, on occasion, be left feeling disheartened by the poor turnout from the Scouse youth, as if the intangible spark that has driven these city streets for decades has finally burnt out.

Yet, it is clear that the Autumn drizzle has not eliminated any spark here. The next generation of musicians have arrived in their hordes and the ebb and flow of sonic anticipation is beginning to circulate. The night boasts an enticing line-up of some of the county’s most highly praised young acts. As a disciple of these new artists myself, I await the answers as to why they create an unusual amount of attraction for a cold Wednesday night in Liverpool.

Before the main act arrive, the indie-disco cocktail that is THE ORIELLES take to the stage and begin to explore the depths and intricacies of their debut album, Silver Dollar Moment. Although still clearly sticking to a set-list, their performance is lucid. Their sounds work their way around the room, flowing between the members of the crowd and whirlpooling towards the centre of the room where a mosh-pit begins to form. This lively reception from the audience is testament to the bubbling atmosphere The Orielles create.

The songs are bustling with tropical static, deconstructed and then rebuilt, injected with a new layer of infectious energy. I Only Bought It For The Bottle provides the perfect platform as the guitar solo is replaced by a wild samba frenzy. The usual instruments are substituted for cowbells and an apito (samba whistle), all topped off by a reworked, unstructured version of the final chorus; it’s an atmospheric swell that engulfs the audience below. This experimental quality to their live sound, summarised by the psych-pop outro of Sugar Tastes Like Salt, is captivating and concocts a colourful vibe, full of alcohol, smiling faces and flailing limbs. The question that I can’t help thinking is why these vibrant creations are only deemed worthy of a support slot, while the indistinguishable songs of THE MAGIC GANG take precedence.

Having grown up amid the peak of mid-2000s indie, you would have thought that the four lads from The Magic Gang would be packed full of youthful, chaotic exuberance – akin to The Cribs, Arctic Monkeys, even The View. Maybe this is a northern gaze, but they give the impression that they’ve soaked up this spirit and pushed it through a London Millennial filter, appearing on the other side clean, refined, good-looking and kind.

Although their performance is a long shot from the underground culture of garage and psych that perpetuates the constant buzz of Liverpool’s music scene, their influence has to be commended. With their uplifting, sing-along choruses and their soothing Beatles rendition (featuring in a proper encore) they have dragged the young people of Liverpool out from their homes and packed out a sizeable venue. Even though they lack any definitive edge they may be crucial, playing a part in a genre that is keeping guitar music alive. Having said this, while watching them placed next to a band such as The Orielles, I know which way I would prefer indie to swing in the coming years.

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