Amid the prestige and cultural elegance of the Manchester International Festival, Kenneth Branagh is performing Macbeth. It may seem an odd choice to have MONEY playing the same festival bill, but diversity is what MIF is all about.
With their atmospheric melodies, to see MONEY perform in the intimate Pavilion Theatre is something in itself. Tonight, however, among the drag queens and makeshift tipis, this background is made far more bizarre.
Walking into a blissfully unaware crowd, we hear only the sounds of drinkers outside as lead singer Jamie Lee serenades the crowd into silence with an introductory note of ‘Manchester Is Paradise’. As he clambers to the stage the projections swarm the band, and flood the whole room.
The band is almost invisible within a sea of slow, blissful rhythms and dancing melodies. Even the crowd starts moving in slow motion as the music seeps into it. Then the vocals fade and we’re brought back to earth with a bump, as whoops and cheers take over.
There are a few big nods towards Joy Division spliced with intelligent psychedelia, but vocals flit between the falsetto style of Wild Beasts and the echoing vibrations of many Manchester bands before them. But just when you’ve let the music completely absorb you, Jamie switches it back around, leaping from the stage to the floor, reciting lyrics at the top of his lungs as sweat pours down his face.
Suddenly MONEY transforms from a projected multi-sensory experience to a lone, haunting choirboy. Then, with an uncomfortable piano accompaniment or simply the quiet chatter of the crowd as a backdrop, the band stuns the room, leaving a few hardcore fans to sing along.
MONEY may be musical outsiders, but while The xx and Massive Attack stake out their residencies at the same festival it’s only natural that this act strikes its stride surrounded by artists and world premieres.
Words: Ruth Offord
Photos: Elinor Jones
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