LIVE REVIEW | DANTZIC | MANCHESTER CASTLE HOTEL 30/05 by Tom Whittleton

The Northern Quarter’s Castle Hotel hums with the raw energy of an unpinned hand grenade. Sold out wall to wall on a Thursday night for darkwave groovers, Dantzic‘s single release.

Pain‘ comes hot on the heels of the group’s first single ‘Taste‘ riding a wave of gloomy industrial noise with a funk backbeat. Tonight, the boys are celebrating the release with a sweatbox performance with support from Sugartung, whose glam punk aggression has been making waves in the punk scene. 

Blacked out in eye makeup, lead singer Daniel Cocksedge stalks the stage before tuning up and kicking in. ‘A Bird Sings while she sleeps‘ builds the atmosphere for the performance balancing between Nick Cave lyricism and Buzzcocks razorblade guitars. Mitch Walsh’s lead performance builds layers of screeching feedback over Will Halls bass chord rumblings.

Northern town‘ shares co-vocals between Mitch and Dan with a brief introduction around the feeling of disillusionment about your hometown and the pitfalls that come with being different from your peers. A swaggering chorus with catchy lyrics was exactly what the band needed towards the end of the set. 

A completely leftfield cover of Squeeze’s ‘Up the Junction‘ gives the crowd a sing-along anthem, with a change from the heavy original keyboard replaced by lead guitar high notes. It’s clear the band are having fun with the jumpy pub rock classic without losing any garage rock cool. 

The final song ‘want out‘ starts with a rhythm section attack on the senses as Dan balances his guitar high into the chandelier ceiling. Channeling his inner Iggy between glances at the audience and back-to-back strumming with his band mates, the song dips between tightly focused verses and a dirty chorus leaving a sore voice for any singer. A wall of noise finishes Sugartung’s slot a quick thank you and the band slink off. 

The interlude before Dantzic’s set builds tension in the now packed room, the outdoor smoking area is a fog of nervously inhaled roll ups and empty pint glasses. The corridor between venue and bar is a one-in-one-out system of revelers and band moving equipment: as far as Northern Quarter cool goes its positively subzero. 

Ties are adjusted, leather jackets removed, and amps fire up as Dantzic takes stage. With a sisters of mercy cut off t-shirt you know there’s goth darkness inbound, frontman Shan Henderson (Endo) smirks and flirts with the mic. 

Opening track ‘Step up‘ shakes up the room with funk infused darkness and gang of four guitar gouging building up what was to come. The rhythm takes Centre stage with this group, people sway and foot-tap like a snapshot into Manchester’s past with a modern drive. 

Synth-powered groove brings the trappings of your standard punk band out of the equation; the addition of cutting single note keys keep the groove going just on the edge of complete meltdown. Exactly where you want it to be.

Teasing the newest single from the group ‘Pain‘ as the next track, they goad the audience as a wave of sweeping chorus pedal and reverbed guitar fills the space, courtesy of guitarist Gazza the waves of feedback straddle the basses thump, with tight robotic drumming from which holds together the noisier aspects of the song. “Do you feel the same?” screeches Shan.

The drum machine talents of Mack are not to be understated, clunky bits of kit from 40 years ago are hard to handle but the transitions between ‘Hit the floor‘ and into ‘Sugar‘ give it plenty of time to work its head bopper magic. 

Dantzic (can’t.capture)

Single ‘Taste‘ is the final original track of the night with stage banter cuddle between Shan and Oscar where adjusting his tie, they share a moment of comradery cutting the darkwave tension with a knife.

Oscar Boons bass chord intro drives forward the 80s drum machine, so the crowd shuffles along to the beat. Shan’s vulnerable performance style mixed with Wildman energy lets the audience into a snapshot of his psyche, with shirt nowhere to be found.

An overdriven blow out version of ‘Sleeping gas‘ by legendary post punkers Teardrop Explodes finishes the night with Shan throwing himself around the stage as the group lay into groove after groove. 

Scratching the urge for vintage, contrasted with the cutting edge of the cities previous 5 years post punk revivalism, nothing sounds quite like it, but all underground classics are there.

Like if Grace Jones joined Bauhaus. 

Pain‘ and ‘Taste‘ are out now on all platforms. 

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