Updated: Friday, 3rd July 2020 @ 7:20am

Review: Submotion Orchestra @ Gorilla, Manchester

Review: Submotion Orchestra @ Gorilla, Manchester

| By Dan Cave

After four critically acclaimed albums, remixes from hot-right-now producers, as well as global tours, Submotion Orchestra have become respected stalwarts of English organic electronica.

Memories of their ad-hoc, experimental conception as the paid-in-beer live-jamming residents at Hukaz Bar in Leeds have been rendered faint by consistent sleek performances.

Their tight show at Gorilla was no exception, as the band’s instrumentalists arrived on stage bursting with keys, synths, brass and percussive set-ups.

Tommy Evans – the band’s founder, drummer and an award winning Jazz composer in his own right – has engendered a music first approach, regardless of band-members individual accolades.

And it was an understated instrumental opening – delicately tweaked into minutiae-aware perfection by Dominic Ruckspin off-stage – that exhibited Tommy’s ethos from the off.

Tazz’s repetitive keys tinkled and Bobby’s trumpet rose, as other members of the band took their positions ready for the first vocal tune Time Will Wait.

As Submotion’s vocalist Ruby Wood was on maternity leave, unknown Londoner Alyusha took centre-stage as cover, having only released her first single earlier in the week.

This unannounced change caused consternation in the crowd – Ruby’s rich vocals have become synonymous with the band’s sound – but these seconds of concern lasted until exactly the first moment Alyusha sang her first notes.

As she charmed Gorilla with a beaming smile and alluring dance moves, Submotion’s instrumentalists went about screening all from the rainy world outside.

The band’s wavering vocals, lightly-textured instrumentalism and hypnotic bass-licks forged an undulating show of theatrical peaks and dub-heavy, reverberating troughs.

New album tracks such as Red Dress, sang by the octave-transcending Billy Boothroyd, were weaved, almost invisibly, into numerous interludes – including the dub-influenced Chrome Units.

With a diverse array of musical backgrounds making up the Leeds-cum-London based seven-piece, the influence of jazz, soul, house, dub, reggae and orchestral structuring were present throughout.

Even the show’s somber moments – as displayed during performance of the love-yearning Rust

are delicately threaded out from dance-edged or jazz-informed segments.

The order and perfection of their live-show is something worked hard upon in rehearsal, as highlighted by members on social media.

But these workmanlike days spent in rehearsal spaces are worth the results, as the performance of throbbing dance-ballad Blind Spot and the house-music pulses of Amira testify to.

As Submotion’s last song Worries – a progressive and densely textured crescendo that the talented Boothroyd and Alyusha performed together – ended, Manchester craved more.

For any band to encourage such response affirms the importance of Submotion’s live-show.

That a hall of beer-swilled punters will half-whisper, in transfixed mantra, the chorus of final encore All Yours, back at the band, evidences the magic of Submotion’s live ardor.

However good their records – which they sell in person, from the stage, after the show – the magic of Submotion is bearing witness to the scope of their musical landscape which appears hewn, as if just for you.

Image courtesy of Marek Banert, via YouTube, with thanks