Gig Review and Photography by John Bentley

Ty Segall

Like Jack White, Ty Segall is one of a new breed of young musicians who have real talent, as well as charisma, who take the trouble to learn from listening to the rich musical heritage of rock and seem to develop loads of ideas and a real sense of direction as to where they want to be. Still only 27 and with umpteen solo albums / other band collaborations already behind him, Segall is back in the UK playing sold out gigs based around his latest album, ‘Manipulator’.

Ty Segall - introducing the band

Tonight is my first gig travelling on unknown roads (50 miles in the dark) from my new home base in North Yorkshire and also the first trip to Manchester’s Gorilla. So I have a few butterflies before setting off. Fortunately the sat nav is on top form and I arrive in the usual familiar Manchester car park and, mercifully, I don’t end up at Uncle Monty’s remote farm in the Lake District (ref. ‘Withnail and I’). Gorilla turns out to be a bit of a gem as a venue, a rock and roll barn under the railway arches of central Manchester and with a nice informal atmosphere. And it’s packed out wall-to-wall with eager punters.

Movie Star Junkies_CDS8012 copy2

The support band tonight is Movie Star Junkies. I’ve not heard of them and the name isn’t promising. However, they turn out to be ace. They’ve been around a few years and come from Italy, although this is not particularly obvious. Their style is punk-blues, with influences from anarchic outfits like The Birthday Party. Very much the central figure of the band is Stefano Isaia, who dementedly prowls around the stage looking pained and uttering a visceral Beefheartian growl. He makes occasional stabs at a keyboard organ, including a neat trick of holding keys down with his foot, while facing in the opposite direction and singing. The band is pretty tight with an impressively solid rhythm section.

Ty Segall

Californian Ty Segall is certainly prolific, but he still manages to maintain quality control over his extensive output. Current album ‘Manipulator’ has received widespread critical approval and is probably one of the best albums of his career and, uncharacteristically, it was a long time in gestation. Radio 6’s Marc Riley has been a long term champion of Segall’s career and tonight the band arrive straight from a live session on Riley’s programme.

Ty Segall

Again, like Jack White, Segall has absorbed a wide range of music, mostly from the era before he was even born, and this is particularly apparent in the new album. He’s cited Hawkwind as his favourite band, but his many influences include glam, punk, hardcore, heavy rock, psych and acoustic folk. His albums are varied and reflect a musical development, as he continually moves on to new pastures. Tonight’s gig is very much about pure garage rock, but there’s far more to the man’s musical palette if you revisit his previous work. Rather like Neil Young has Crazy Horse as his band of choice for wild rock outings, so Ty Segall has assembled the hard-driving Manipulator band for the current tour. The band is Mikal Cronin on bass, Emily Rose-Epstein on drums and Fuzz member Charles Moorhart on second guitar.

Ty Segall

There’s something reassuring (demonstrates down to earth humility, maybe?) about seeing a band involved in setting up their own instruments, rather than relying on an army of roadies. And this is what happens with Ty Segal and his band. With everything set up, a madcap smart-casual dressed guy in a Stetson hat and cowboy neckerchief takes the stage, clutching a beer bottle. Announcing himself as their manager, Jimmy Longhorn, he proceeds, tongue in cheek, to introduce Ty Segall and The Manipulator Band, to the amusement of the ensemble themselves, as they wait in the wings.

Ty Segall

Then the band are on, with Jimmy initially playing a keyboard before leaving the stage. The hour and quarter set draws mostly on tracks from the ‘Manipulator’ album, plus a few old favourite songs from the back catalogue. And it’s pretty relentless driving, heads-down, grinding guitar garage rock all night. It’s amazing how the band sustain the tight musicianship and the continuous level of energy over the whole set.

Ty Segall

The mosh pit area is soon heaving back and forth and is not a place for the faint hearted. It’s not long before the crowd surfing really kicks in. Ty Segall obviously approves of this form of expression of enjoyment of his music and has a visible smile, as yet another surfer leaps from the low stage and disappears into the mosh pit. Fortunately the venue’s security seem to be understanding and low key in keeping the place in order. Indeed, at the very end of the encore, Segall himself finally takes a determined dive into the crowd. It’s his heartfelt gesture of solidarity with the highly appreciative audience. So, it’s a triumphant return to Manchester for Ty Segall.

Leave a Reply