It’s been almost year and a half since Gengahr released their debut album ‘A Dream Outside’ on Transgressive Records. The four-piece have since earned their stripes supporting Alt-J and The Maccabees, as well as a string of appearances on festival stages. Drummer Danny has even survived a fifteen show stretch of playing one-armed after breaking his shoulder while on the road with Wolf Alice. Now on their second headline tour of the UK, stop number three saw them return to Nottingham’s Bodega.
Tickets hadn’t quite sold out but the small upstairs room was soon padded out with bodies. The space is so compact that the first twenty or so people through the door are within touching distance of the band. After a warm-up set from Leeds three-piece Caro, frontman Felix apologetically told the audience how they’d been working hard on their new material, and that was what we were going to hear. Opening with ‘Malory’, the crowd was only too happy to listen.
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The track’s end notes tailed into the more familiar ‘Heroine’ without much breathing time and the absence of a pause between songs did the trick of introducing the new stuff while keeping the crowd up. By the time ‘Embers’ was played midway through the set, the ante was upped again with louder vocals and grittier instrumental solos – cue a polite onslaught of encouraging heckling.
The new tracks sounded playful and a little more upbeat compared to their slightly darker predecessors. Though, even on the older tracks, Gengahr played faster and louder live than they do on the record – which is definitely a good thing. They created an energy and intensity around them, and you were able to get the measure of the skill of bassist Hugh and lead guitar John. The layers of rough, fuzzy guitar and impressive licks filled the room with atmosphere but were slickly controlled. The venue’s sound too was pretty much faultless throughout from my spot on the innermost corner.
Their mix of psychedelic pop and grunge has frequently been compared to Tame Impala; on the night I even heard MGMT and Temples in places where things got most groovy. With Felix’s distinctive wavering falsetto offsetting the catchy melodies with it’s slightly ethereal quality, Genghar are perfecting something that is fun and affecting in equal parts – and very much their own. Aside from the music itself, the band’s in-house approach to their artwork and videos all adds to their genuineness.
They closed with favourite ‘She’s A Witch’ and Nottingham sang along with them. The end came all too quickly – ‘Bathed In Light’ was sorely missed from the set, although John tells me it was very much meant to be played, he just forgot to write it down. They did pacify the crowd by playing an encore of ‘Powder’ and stuck around afterwards, where their trusty Pokémon mascot made an appearance. Gengahr are debuting the new setlist across the country through til December and with everything going down so well, it doesn’t seem like it will be long until they are back with more.
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