GRAVE Pleasures were at Sound Control in Manchester last night (October 9), Ollie Mackenzie was there for us…

Grave Pleasures is a band that can be summed up in three words; bold, brash, brilliant. A band whose stage presence is only matched by their potential as an act that could give the post-punk genre the adrenaline shot it’s been needing for almost a decade.

However, their thunder was almost completely stolen by their own support act ‘Desperate Journalist’, who displayed more traditional ideas of post-punk rock, whilst also adding elements of alt-pop to their set.

With a name inspired by a remark made to the controversial Paul Morley by 80’s post-punk stalwarts The Cure, it becomes easy to spot the intentions of the group. Special praise goes to frontwoman Jo Bevan, who managed to craft emotive and stark lyrics that complement Rob Hardy’s 12-string assault on newer, watered down alt-pop incredibly well.

It’s a chemistry that shines on stage, and is massively assisted by Bevan possessing the vocal ability of a upstart Suzi Persson, and on stage personality of a young Suzi Quatro. If this tour represents their arrival to the world of live music, then they’ve not just come to play, but to assault your senses with a sound that is not only well crafted, but bracingly old school timbre. I only hope that they can continue to go from strength to strength and enjoy headlining tours soon.

With Desperate Journalist setting the bar, Grave Pleasures did well to match and slightly exceed it. With roots in Scandinavian outfit Beastmilk, the three surviving members of the group (now joined by guitarist Juho Vanhanen, and drummer Uno Bruniusson of “In Solitude” fame) have managed to turn the solid, if at times erratic, debut album ‘Climax’, into a more cohesive and succinct sound.

It came out in their set well, and although the band is thoroughly celebrating a new era, they weren’t afraid to revisit their past. With their set list boasting tracks such as the lyrically hard, almost Morrissey inspired ‘Death Reflects Us’ to the altogether more relaxed ‘Genocidal Crush’. Pleasures are an act that champions its origins, whist also celebrating the added focus that their recent additions bring.

Such focus was on display in force last night, as they moved on to some of the leading numbers of their new LP ‘Dreamclash’, taking on a some elements of funk rock that made the Red Hot Chilli Peppers such a tour de force; tracks such as ‘Hip New Moon’ and ‘Girl in a vortex’ especially have a thumping, hypnotic rhythm to them, especially when performed live.

In a night that sent a clear message of the importance of vocally astute and charismatic front people, a special mention has to go to vocalist Mat Kvohst McNerney. The 36-year old has an incredible cult of personality when on stage. The most experienced musician of the group is a truly mesmerising man to watch perform, who casts a spell over his audience usually only reserved for the Rou Reynolds and Anthony Kiedis’s of the world.

As a complete act though, tonight proved that Grave Pleasures are a superbly strong entry point into the world of punk rock, sure there music might not be the most complex in musical, nor is it the most revolutionary in terms of lyrical composition. However, in a modern rock world that has been chasing its own tail since the dawn of the millennium, Grave Pleasures (and Desperate Journalist it has to be said) provide some proof that creativity and traditional true to genre philosophies can still break through and be embraced.

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