Today is International Women’s Day. This means that some of the more deserving local talent of Manchester are given the appropriate praise they constantly deserve, two of these being, grunge-punk group Witch Fever, and purveyors of poor health, ILL. This is as part of an event by SHE PWR at Deaf Institute, in which female-curated art is celebrated. As work commitments keep me from attending everything I possibly can, I only manage to catch Witch Fever and ILL.
On a brief side note, I see spoken-word artist Elsie Hadgraft is apart of tonight’s SHE PWR, however I unfortunately don’t get the chance to hear her ramble in the main bar area. I do however recognise the name from Corporation Pop, and more specifically her Stockport affiliation (Meet me by the Viaduct), therefore, I feel its only suitable giving her a mention if nothing else.
Witch Fever are a group I’ve had on my radar after hearing the single Toothless, and seeing their name crop up as a support act for many gigs I’ve missed, therefore I did not want to miss out again. And fuck me was I missing out. The short set was ferocious. The power of Amy Warpol’s vocal is otherworldly. I entered the room as soundcheck was ending, and within a second she was wailing away, then jumping into the audience to gaze upon those who bore witness to this performance. I’ve never seen a grin on a singer that screamed joy and passion as much as tonight. Witch Fever are not one to be missed. When announcing their last song the crowd gave cries of desperate need for more. Warpol has reminded us tonight that International Women’s Day should be celebrated every day, a statement I find hard to disagree with, especially with this calibre of talent to back it up.
Up next is ILL. They might just be one of my favourite groups working right now, and conveniently reside within the county of Greater Manchester, making it easy for me to see them as much as possible. Tonight is my third time. The first time I saw them was after stumbling into the basement of Soup Kitchen at last years Psych Fest, where I was blown away. Absolutely enamoured. I bought their debut record immediately, and a T-Shirt. The second time was in the hard to find Aatma, supporting the icon that is Damo Suzuki. With songs about wanking, the Kremlin and the NHS; it’s hard not to love the humour and talent present. Harri Shanahan is nothing less than powerful, with a punk rock snarl that could destroy any front man. Witney Bluzma’s bass and wailing vocals alongside Fiona Ledgard’s sensational rhythm keeps the sound moving. Then we have Ben Nield, the newest addition on guitar, proving himself tonight with distorted and wobbly guitar sounds.
A rather sad note on the performance was the lack of audience attendance as opposed to Witch Fever. Given the brief 30 minute set time, ILL definitely had more to show, and I can only hope they left as good an impression on the other crowd members as they did with me. Kremlin still reigns supreme in the set list, and two new additions, or so I believe. One being about a Polish man, that I cannot wait to hear again and again, and the other possibly being titled disobedience, that shows hopeful signs of an upcoming release. Fingers crossed.
I feel this review has been outweighed by my inimitable love of ILL, however, do not misinterpret the importance of Witch Fever also. They are a band I plan on keeping a sharp eye on in the future and will hopefully have more to say about them when the time comes. Tonight ‘SHE PWR’ is has proven that ‘SHE’ can be more than almighty. I now make a hasty retreat across the other side of town to the Peer Hat, as I have a date with Drone.