AMBIENT music legend Tim Hecker graced the quaint Manchester Academy 3 last night (May 16), in support of his latest album, ‘Love Streams‘. Quays News entertainment reporter Will Stevenson went along to run the rule over the esteemed artist…

Before Hecker took to the stage, though, it was time for Worriedaboutsatan. This Bradford based two-piece create texture filled, bass heavy IDM, with a huge dose of post rock influence. Live, it is a sight to behold.

The two members face each other, with a mass of electronic knobs and buttons in between to alter the soaring, shoe-gazing sounds that Gavin Miller produces on his Fender guitar. Meanwhile, producer and DJ Thomas Ragsdale creates beats that can be soft, subtle – almost trance inducing.

That’s not all there is to Worriedaboutsatan though, these beats can morph very quickly into heavy, dance electronica. After dazzling the audience throughout an impressive half hour set, the band finished following a dance inducing crescendo.

At half past nine, ambient maestro Tim Hecker quietly emerged onto the stage. There’s no microphone to be seen; Hecker doesn’t announce his presence; indeed, he doesn’t speak a word throughout his hour long set. When he began playing, the chatter in the audience slowly subsides into silence as it dawns on everyone that the eerie, droning noise emitting from the speakers is the music of tonight’s headliner.

Many live acts are all about style over substance, but Tim Hecker allows his music – and the quality of the sound system in the Academy 3 – to speak for itself. He himself is hidden behind a layer of fog, with minimal stage lighting to illuminate him to anything beyond a Vans-wearing silhouette.

What little light there is, is almost childishly simple: slowly flashing blue and purple lights which fluctuate in time with the music. Despite the simplicity of this set up, though, it works perfectly; inducing the audience into a wonderful near-stupor.

It proved difficult to discern individual songs being played. With an educated guess, it seems Hecker played slightly remixed versions of songs from his latest album, this year’s incredible ‘Love Streams‘. One tune that does stick out is ‘Obsidian Counterpoint‘, with its skull-shaking bass pummelling the audience.

The quality speakers in the Academy 3 really are a standout part of the show; the bass vibrated around the room throughout, without drowning out any of the upper or mid-range. In fact, the entire sound was crystal clear, with the subtle layering of instrumentation adding a lot to the overall experience.

Once he reached the end of his set, the stage was suddenly doused in purple lighting reminiscent of the album cover for ‘Love Streams‘. More visible than ever, but still silhouetted by shadows, Hecker clasped his hands in prayer, bowed slightly to his captive audience and exited the stage.

When the house lights went up, the crowd hollered their appreciation for his music for a solid minute after he left the stage.

Tim Hecker

It was a very unusual gig; never have I spent so much time at a live concert with my eyes closed; rarely does a performance go by with no encore; it’s incredibly odd to not even see the performer at all.

But Hecker isn’t a usual musician, he’s a unique talent with a unique vision, and his live show encapsulates that vision wonderfully.

By Will Stevenson

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