Gig Review and Photography by John Bentley

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

Pond are a band who seem to live in the shadow of fellow Aussies from Perth, Tame Impala. Members of Pond have been in Tame Impala and vice versa. While Tame Impala seem to have got most of the limelight, Pond may be the hardest workers, having made six albums since 2009. And as tonight’s gig demonstrates, Pond are a red hot band, far beyond being an offshoot of Tame Impala.

Younghusband, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

Support band, Younghusband, describe their musical genre as ‘death petal’. A nice descriptive tag. The London band’s well-received set is medium-paced, melodic, jangly guitar rock, which gets heavier mid-set and is a little reminiscent of Ride. Their last number ends abruptly at 9pm on the dot, catching everybody off-guard, and, with a brief wave, the band make a rapid exit.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

The atmosphere in Academy 2 is relaxed, as we await the arrival of Pond. The background music on the PA is extremely poppy, maybe not what you would expect. The security men even start dancing to Dolly Pardon’s ‘9 to 5’.

Pond’s genre is far-out psychedelic rock, like Tame Impala. However, they’re a far looser and more collaborative ensemble than Impala. The line-up changes from time to time, but the core members are Nick Allbrook (lead vocals and guitar), Jay Watson (drums) and Joe Ryan (vocals and guitar) and the live line up also features Jamie Terry on keyboards.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

The set concentrates on Pond’s last two albums, 2013’s ‘Hobo Rocket’ and their new release the cosmically-titled ‘Man, It Feels Like Space Again’. Second song in is ‘Elvis’ Flaming Star’, a single from the new album, and perhaps the most Tame Impala-sounding tune tonight, with some of the rumble of Impala’s ‘Elephant’.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

A collaborative unit of musical equals they may be, but Nick Allbrook is very much the frontman on stage, very relaxed, casually attired and sporting a fur hat, more appropriate to a snow-covered Canadian forest scene. He tells us he thought there was a shit-load of people coming to see them, but it turned out there was a street protest outside the venue. Nevertheless, the gig is virtually sold out and the band seem mighty pleased with the enthusiastic audience response throughout the evening.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

One surprise in the set is the inclusion of a cover of Brian Eno’s ‘Baby’s On Fire’, which turns into a great psych wig-out, with squealing guitars and thunderous drums. “Thanks, Eno”, says Allbrook as the song crashes to its end. The band hand the audience an inflatable pink pelican to blow up. “If it doesn’t come back, we get grumpy”, Allbrook tells us. It comes back.

The main set ends with two ‘big’ songs from the ‘Hobo Rocket’ album, ‘Giant Tortoise’, with its recurring twisted guitar riff, and the lengthy multi-part ‘Midnight Mass (At The Market Street Payphone)’, featuring more sonorous, heavy guitar work from Allbrook and Ryan, interspersed with quieter passages.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

The band leave the stage as the clattering feedback continues from the downed instruments, only to return after a short period for one encore song, the standout title track from the new album, ‘Man, It Feels Like Space Again’. Overall a pretty intense evening. Pond radiate energy and there’s no let-up in their performance. Allbrook rightly seems pleased and tells us to buy the soundman at the back of the hall a (well-earned) drink before we go! On the way out I eye-up the latest Pond T-shirt on the merchandise stall. A bearded cartoon guy on the shirt is typing on his laptop – “Dear Pond, your latest album stinks”. Pond are a great band, who sound fantastic and are fun, and they are rightly confident enough in their work to be self-deprecating.

Pond, Manchester Academy 2, 26-2-15

Pond setlist: Waiting Around for Grace; Elvis’ Flaming Star; You Broke My Cool; Heroic Shart; Don’t Look At The Sun Or You’ll Go Blind; Sitting Up On Our Crane; Baby’s on Fire; Holding Out For You; Giant Tortoise; Midnight Mass (At The Market Street Payphone). Encore: Man, It Feels Like Space Again.

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