Following the success of their high charting 2021 debut album, ‘Bright Green Field’, which featured the innovatively brilliant singles, GSK and Narrator, Squid have continued to push their creative boundaries as they returned this year with critically acclaimed new album, ‘O MONOLITH’.
We first saw Squid on the live stage at Manchester’s Albert Hall following the debut album release, where their unique stage presence and intricate musical performance impressed an entranced Mancunian crowd.
What they may have lacked in crowd interaction as they shrouded themselves in low-lit mystery, they more than made up for in performance, creating a captivating live show comparable to fellow genre flag-flyers, Black Country, New Road.
Their return to Manchester was at New Century Hall for this month’s run of tour dates, a venue priding itself on a fresh, unique live music setting to challenge the city’s competitive live scene, aligning perfectly with the talented, creative quintet that took to the stage this time last week.
Squid opened with lead single from ‘O MONOLITH’, ‘Swing (In A Dream)’, which Ollie Judge (singer and drummer – a combination that sums up this band) said “was inspired by a dream I had about a painting called The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. In my dream I was in the painting but it was flooded and everything was floating away.”
It seemed quite a fitting way to open the show, as this strange, dreamy aura exuded by the band carries through right until the finale.
From the improvised live version of GSK to the omission of early success and live favourite, Houseplants, the set was symbolic of a band progressing and moving with their own unharnessed musical creations, both on record and in their live performances.
Whilst the improvisation was impressive, the other side of the coin sees a carefully crafted set with musical experimentation from a band seemingly becoming more tight knit as a collaborative sonic force nurturing their art.
Judge seemed more confident as the voice of the band this time around. Whilst he first addressed the crowd with some insight into the venue’s “longest ash tray in the world”, he was soon thankful to a city that has welcomed the wonderfully mysterious world of Squid from the very start of their journey.
Within the set, the likes of Narrator and Pamphlets were stand-out individual tracks, but the real take-home was this fluid show of instrumental experimentation, seamless segues, and ultimately a group of friends having fun on stage and sharing their talented work with a sold out crowd.
With the London Troxy show capping off the tour next week, Squid will look back on this run of dates as a landmark period of their career, where they took their live show up a level to match the sonic progression of ‘O MONOLITH’.
Make no mistake, this is one of the most exciting bands the UK has produced in recent times, and a must-see on their next headline tour.
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