Whitest Boy Alive
Manchester Ruby Lounge
Whitest Boy Alive front man Erlend Øye is a happy soul tonight; making no effort to disguise the geeky grin he sports throughout his bands 90 minute set. Back in the North where he spent six months living in leafy Chorlton (being Manchester, Erlend still got attacked) Øye barely moves two feet all night, such as his comfort and calmness these days.
Fellow white boys Marcin (bass, cracking 80s perm hairdo), Daniel (keys, outstanding player) and Sebastian (drums, hidden from our view by a speaker stack) are consummate musicians, driving songs forward with minimalist precision and a whole lot of funk. First song ‘Keep a Secret’ starts inauspiciously but gathers momentum with Øye’s prickly guitar line and weaving keyboard stabs. Each song is performed effortlessly; studied, piercing eyes glare from Marcin while Øye continues to flip a manic grin. No instrument dominates, and tonight’s sound mixing is near on perfect.
New songs flirt with old in a crowd pleasing set list. New songs are nailed and performed by seasoned pros; ‘Dead End’ picks out new-wave riffs as Øye laments lost love, while ‘Intentions’ sounds like Steely Dan after a visit to the Hype Machine. ‘Golden Cage’ pretty much lifts the roof off the Ruby, sparking furious dancing in the sweaty front rows. The brooding ‘Timebomb’ offers a change of pace before the band launch into The Prodigy’s ‘Out of Space’ to the crowds delight.
WBA aren’t just here to sell their new album, there’s more joy in the scratchy funk of ‘Above You’ and the pop perfection of ‘Burning’ from 2006 debut Dreams. We haven’t seen a better live performance this year, and it’ll take something special to top Erlend and his boys on this form.
Written originally for Clash Music. The Whitest Boy Alive's new album Rules is out now, via their own label Bubbles - order here.