After several support slots, French post-black metallers Alcest finally headline Manchester
French post-black metallers Alcest have long been overdue a headline run in the UK, so the tour which finally rolled into Manchester last week – with support from one man alt-rock project Lone Wolf – promised a night of tantalising sights and sounds.
I’m not entirely sure how to describe Lone Wolf. In fact, the wolf is not alone tonight: backed up by a synth player and drummer, the project – fronted by one Paul Marshall – is, for want of a better word, “bland”. With the obvious influences of Tom Waits and Nick Cave, the musical outpour is somewhat stilted. Whilst it contains elements of the aforementioned, the performance and material on offer never really packs any punch. With a 30-minute set filled with piano driven drawls, it’s clear that his two and a half years off the stage may have hindered the performance somewhat.
Alcest, on the other hand, are sublime – and they know it. Despite the first track of their performance “Opale” being plagued with technical difficulties, these are ironed quickly and a solid performance gets underway. Cuts from the band’s latest – and more shoegaze-orientated – release Shelter blend effortlessly with tracks from all four albums.
From the enchanting “Écailles de Lune: Part One” through to the crushing “Percées De Lumiére”, Neige and co. flit between the breathless shoegaze sound and the aural intensity of black metal so fluidly that it becomes indistinguishable from one another – it’s just perfect.
The band depart the stage to a raucous applause from the capacity crowd, returning for an encore of the classic “Autre Temps” and the ten-minute masterpiece “Délivrance”. These tracks round off the night perfectly, and it’s clear from the silence exiting the venue that the crowd are still in awe of what they’ve just witnessed: a tight 90-minute set of aural perfection that is just as soothing to the soul as it is to the ears.
The band will have played London’s Incineration Festival this weekend to close out the tour, alongside the likes of God Seed, Keep Of Kalessin and Niklas Kvarforth’s Shining. We hope that Alcest don’t take too long in returning to the U.K. as headliners!