This isn’t the first time ethereal Oxford quartet Glass Animals have played Manchester but judging by tonight’s crowd you’d think that it was. Huddled together under Oxford Road station in the heart of Manchester’s student corridor stands a rabble that are nicely pissed and ready for some fun. Gorilla’s a relatively new venue and one that feels the perfect size for this band at this point in their career. Judging by the ear-to-ear grins plastered across the faces of tonight’s audience members and dance-happy frontman Dave Bayley, both parties are equally happy to see each other.
An eerie, earthy sound welcomes the band onto the stage, blending seamlessly into tonight’s funky slow-jam opener “Black Mambo”. Coasting on Bayley’s lighter-than-air vocals and bandmates Drew McFarlane, Edmund Irwin-Singer and Joe Seaward’s plinky, floaty musical talents, the band have deftly created their own sound that’s immediately identifiable. Permeated with its own electrified air and synthy tribal beat, this sort of dreamy rainforest ether dominates their 2014 debut ZABA and it’s impressively brought to life in Manchester tonight. The hypnotic chanting of “Psylla”’s ‘I follow soon’ keeps the psychedelic vibe alive straight through to a rendition of “Exxus” during a brief detour to album bonus track territory, all before Bayley stops briefly to fully absorb tonight’s experience. “There’s a lot more of you here than there was the last time we played,” he says through a grin.
With just one full album and a handful of EPs under their belt, tonight’s set is tight and familiar and the crowd have done their homework. The surprisingly early appearance of additive single “Gooey” sets the venue alive with movement whilst also setting a impressively high bar to top so early in their set. As many people’s introduction to Glass Animals’ sound, one might expect this fan-fave to be saved for the band’s big finish but run throughs of “Walla Walla”, the high-end groove of “Hazey”, album opener “Flip” and album closer “Cocoa Hooves” keep spirits high throughout the remainder of the show.
However it’s Glass Animals’ two song encore that really sets the room alight. An immersive cover of Kanye West’s “Lock Lockdown” brings Bayley into the embrace of the crowd, whilst giving a megastar’s song a much-welcomed low-fi indie twist. “Pools” closes out tonight’s show, with its animalistic tribe-vibe leaving Gorilla buzzing and the band more than ready to take festival season by storm. Expect big things.