GOODBYE CLEFT... 09/12/16 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cleft will never play again. Following guitarist Dan Beesley's battle with cancer, the pair made their new album 'Wrong' their last, and the accompanying shows their final tour. There's something about it being the last chance to see a band that brings out real love from their fans who've been there since the start, and this show was a perfect example of that. This show was sold out, the stage adorned with "We'll miss you" balloons, the audience, and everyone involved (shout out to Yeah Buddy DIY for absolutely nailing this one) felt like family. Opening the night were Poly-Math, and they do exactly what you'd expect them to from their name. A set of righteous crescendos, furious, angular riffs and lush ambience was performed to a room nearly already full at 8pm. Each member performed with fantastic intensity, drawing the crowd out of their shells instantly, and playing through adversity, as the guitarist's strap fell off and leads came unplugged during epileptic thrashing. As a nerdy aside, I noticed that the guitarist strung his instrument high strings to low, Albert King style, lending to a completely different approach. "We're glad Cleft are stopping," they joked, "It means we'll get higher up bills when they're gone". Alpha Male Tea Party and Poly-Math have a faux hatred schtick that's fabulously endearing. The pair of bands sling insults at each other like brothers. It's at this point in the evening that the back room of Maguire's starts to take on a transcendent level of heat, consequence of a glorious summer's day, a full, unventilated room and proximity to pizza ovens, but perhaps mostly because of the sheer energy Alpha Male Tea Party radiate. The already warmed up crowd are now feral, banging on the walls and ceiling in applause, track after track. They're rewarded for their rapturousness with a phenomenal set, balancing new and old material fantastically, and boasting a closing song with a fake ending so ingenious it left me exhaling expletives in disbelief. I wondered how Cleft could follow it. It turns out, by producing a contender for the best gig I've seen all year. This set's only competition in 2016 for me is Father John Misty at the Albert Hall, and Dirty Bernard's one off reunion. A staggering feat of musicianship, over an hour Cleft penned their farewell letter to Liverpool with gusto. I found myself staring at John's drumming, waiting for the next deft fill that would boggle my mind. The two play like they're telepathic, and the couple of mistakes made in the entire show were met with "Oh, you" glances between them. They strike remarkable balance between experimentalism and immediacy, being a rare progressive act who are pure fun personified, and despite being instrumental, there are singalong hooks abound in the guitar lines. A special moment occurred during their performance of 'Bees Bees Bees', as promoter Krystian Hudson let loose a flood of balloons from the back, calling to mind a small scale version of LCD Soundsystem's farewell show at Madison Square Garden. The pair then spent the rest of the song dodging the pesky rubber orbs as they made a nuisance of themselves, wedging under cymbals, bouncing off pedals. The closing pair of favourites 'Alec Baldwin's Hair' (listed on their setlist as 'Alec Bald, Wins Hair') and 'Gulch' were fittingly eviscerating, and the announcement of their last song was met with the most warm and heartfelt outcry of objection I've heard at a gig. Afterwards I spoke to Dan. "It's not often I get made to feel like I can't play my instrument, but you guys did that tonight". He replied, "Oh no man, that was a total mess". Lies. Goodbye Cleft. You will be missed. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- MICHAEL EDWARD Plays in Elevant and Galactic Funk Militia, runs the record label Loner Noise, sometimes writes things about music. Has nothing else to talk about except the futility of life and the slow decay of the universe. Likes dogs. Does not own a dog.



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