Live Review: Mothers – Soup Kitchen, Manchester

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

The last time Mothers were in the UK was at the Green Man Festival in 2016. For some reason their slot was moved forward a day resulting in many fans of their impressive debut record, When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired, missing what turned out to be impressive rendition of this record’s brooding grace. The sophomore effort Render Another Ugly Method takes primary creative force Kristine Leschper’s abstract musings to another disconcerting level with various degrees of success, making it hard to predict what this evening’s show in Manchester’s Soup Kitchen would offer. Despite these misgivings, what transpires are moments of beauty cloaked by discordant musical motifs and vocals that somehow coalesce to create atmospheric pleasures that are keenly appreciated by those in attendance.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

Circle Once opens the show, offering almost traditional rhythms at the outset before Leschper’s predilection for unexpected tempo shifts is introduced for the first time. Blame Kit maintains the band’s presentation of new material. Once again, Leschper’s discordant guitar weaves erratic patterns around oscillating basslines and jazz inspired percussive elements. The impact is abstract and challenging, but oddly captivating.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

It Hurts Until it Doesn’t was a highlight from the debut record and it has lost none of its impact presented in the tight confines of the basement venue. It’s perhaps the most conventional spell of the evening. Leschper’s vocals crackle with emotion and the mournful melody careers towards its anticipated tempo-shifting denouement with satisfying drama. It is moments like this which the new album is possibly lacking. This is a band which requires patience however and an appreciation of their style which transcends traditional structures can be rewarding. It Hurts… offers these more conventional pleasures but songs like No Crying In Baseball demonstrate more erratic post-punk sensibilities that are equally compelling.

Photo Credit: Iain Fox

Carina is a synth-heavy ode which jars in its brooding, distorted fairground tones, but Leschper’s vocals possess a dreamlike quality, ensuring that these more discombobulating moments are still potent. Despite this capacity to captivate, the middle section of the show is a challenge and it isn’t until Pink arrives that we’re presented with a song off the new album that really demonstrates Leschper’s vision at its dynamic best. Uptempo, its distorted basslines and furious drums compliment her floating vocals. It’s a hallucinatory experience and one that needs to be followed by an in-depth exploration of the record it comes from to fully experience the rubric which the band have created; in the live arena the lyrical content of these matted contemplations is lost to a degree, but as an experience in a post-modern approach to rhythm, melody and inflection the evening is a fascinating success. As the band depart one punter loudly and repeatedly exhalts the skills of the drummer and Kristine Leschper smiles for the first time, demonstrating her grace amidst such unsettling narratives.

Words & Images by Iain Fox