Feb 20, 2009

Max Tundra brings his sesame streetfunk to Manchester

So then, me and my chum packed our party bags and jollied off to a Max Tundra concert.  It was one of those events we'd been talking about for ages.

The venue was the Deaf Institute, Manchester's gigging force majeure. We delayed setting off because there were some dodgy lads hanging outside my gaff, and I feared they might break in and steal all my chandeliers and brass candlesticks. We then spend fourteen years in the bustling queue while we spectacularly failed to get a refund on a pre-paid ticket. We then queued for non-alcoholic lager (him) and a diet coke (me) because we're on health kicks.

So we missed support band May68.  A BBC review said they "don't make music; they make addictive little bombs."  Bombs are frightening enough without them being addictive, sheesh.

May 68 are named after Charles De Gaulle's least favourite month (ask your French grandfather, if you have one). They're relatively new onto the Manchester scene, and they're a bright pop baguette with an extra helping of CSS sauce.

The be-masked Wave Machines also supported.  They're Hot Chip-inspired art-poppers from Merseyside who sling their funk way below the belt. Their set had one sparkling gem in the form of Keep The Lights On. It sounded like the Bee Gees and David Bowie getting dirty with Grace Jones.

Finally, to the Max (pictured).  I hinted at Max Tundra's trademark stage spasms in this piece back in October, but it struck me for the first time that he is a man who seems constantly surprised by his own music.

He will buy an instrument (a kalimba, a children's toy microphone, a glockenspiel) to use once in one bar of one song. The result is a man running around the stage trying to keep up with his own incredible music.

So we had the skippy frantics of Orphaned, the speed-freak r 'n' b of Lights, the sesame streetfunk of Which Song, and the bizarre other-worldiness of his "cover" of KLF's What Time Is Love.

The dodgy lads didn't steal my brass candlesticks. But me and my chum did make off with fuzzy warmth in our guts from Max's melody and deadpan pleasantries. "Anyone here from the Owen's Park campus?" says Max, no doubt recalling a quick read of Google maps on the way to the gig.

Max Tundra is a definite for your diary next time he's in town and, no, it won't matter if you miss the support band, or if you have to pay for a friend who didn't turn up, or if some robber nicks your widescreen cafetiere while you're out.

Because watching a constantly startled Max Tundra is worth every penny.

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