Thurston Moore. The Ritz. Manchester. 30-11-11.

December 5, 2011


I had been looking forward to this gig for quite some time. I think it’s obvious why. But just in case it isn’t: This is Thurston Moore, Sonic Youth guitarist and all out alternative rock legend. I absolutely love Sonic Youth and when Thurston released his newest solo effort ‘Demolished Thoughts’, I instantly fell in love.

I didn’t really know what to expect from this show. I had to remember that I wasn’t seeing Sonic Youth, just Thurston Moore. I didn’t want my love for the band to cloud my enjoyment of the solo artist. The show was in a completely alien venue in a different city making my pre conceptions on the whole night fairly vague. However, I have heard good things of the promoter (Now Wave) and Manchesters music scene as a whole so was looking forward to a good show.

We arrive at the venue early and practically have the place to ourselves, allowing us to pick our seats. Yes, it was an all seating event. It seemed strange to me, at first, mainly due never attending an all seating event before. However, I guess it seemed fitting so I took to my seat right near the front so I could be fully inspired by the show I was about to witness.

The venue had hardly started to fill up when support band Tall Firs graced the stage. They are two men from the US who play acoustic inspired minimalist guitar rock. It’s very folky and it’s very mellow, a perfect start to the gig. The dual guitar set up allow the band to create interlocking guitar lines that perfectly suit their gentle lyrics. I must admit it was the first time that my ears had heard the beautiful work of Tall Firs and I was very impressed by what I witnessed.

Then it was time. The time I, and everyone else in the venue, had been waiting for. Thurston Moore takes to the stage, dressed in a suit jacket, jeans and trainers, equipped with an acoustic guitar and a full backing band. He looks majestic. On stage I am expecting a wondrous man full of pretension and seriousness, but that’s not what I get. Instead I get a loveable, humorous and interesting character that warms the hearts of everyone in the place. Throughout the set we are treated with anecdotes about Richard Hell, poetry readings and clumsiness. I spent the entire show looking up to the stage gob smacked at the sheer presence this one man has and how effortless it all is.

This great figure of inspiration is helped through his set by his backing band that definitely add the necessary levels of musicianship to support Thurston Moore’s song writing. He plays a range of songs, concentrating mainly on his latest effort “Demolished Thoughts’ but also going back and playing some of his older work which was very welcome. Each song is sang and played with so much passion that it makes the whole experience feel very intimate. This is definitely a man who has a genuine love for his art.

The whole set is note perfect and sounds absolutely stunning. Thurston and his acoustic 12 string guitar are so well suited to each other. I was expecting a fairly relaxed and calm show, but alas my expectations were wrong. Throughout the show, the noisy and out of control side of Thurston’s music began to appear. It’s clear that the Thurston Moore we see play in Sonic Youth still has a penchant for the wild and out of control side of life. Adding thick layers of distortion and fuzz to his acoustic guitar, he goes full force into a Sonic Youth style jam making the loudest and most delicious noise possible. It’s brilliant. I turn round and see everyone gazing at the stage in awe. I didn’t want it to end, but after two encores it eventually did.

For me, this was one hell of a gig. But I still can’t help think that it wasn’t enough. I want to see Sonic Youth. I still have a Sonic Youth shaped hole in my mind that I want to be filled. Yes Thurston is great in his own right, his solo work is exceptional, but it’s still no Sonic Youth. As my original point stated, I was not expecting Sonic Youth so I shouldn’t have felt like this. Maybe the noisier and more frantic parts of the show had wet my appetite for a full the Sonic Youth experience, or maybe seeing Thurston on stage made me realise how much I want to see the band as a whole. Whatever it is, I left worried that this was going to be the closest I would get to ever seeing Sonic Youth live. Although, even if it is, I’m still fully satisfied with the experience and is one that will always hold a strong place in my memory for years to come.


One Response to “Thurston Moore. The Ritz. Manchester. 30-11-11.”

  1. […] Recently I took a trip to Manchester with my girlfriend Virginia to see Thurston Moore (Which I reviewed here). […]

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