Hands Like Houses: Dissonants Tour
Manchester Academy 3, Wednesday 25th May 2016.
The first thing I ever hear from this band is the opening to I Am – It opens the set in Manchester and the recent album Dissonants. It has melody and enough frantic guitar and drum stuff for people to go bananas too. The live crowd were bouncing in unison to a song that is seemingly about not putting a band or a singer on a pedestal. The singer sings about singers (and therefore maybe himself) having the power of influence over people through lyrics and how a lot of the time they are empty, hollow and won’t make any difference. By the end of the song the singer has convinced me “I am not the same, I won’t feed on fame…I will make a change it’s by my words and not my name.”
There is nothing wrong with demanding more from yourself and your peers, if their opening anthem is meant to engage with those down their watching from the floor, the band will make sure it’s genuine. Great opener, and the song that made me sit up and take notice.
Colourblind was next on the night and for some reason in that moment it felt like an old standard of theirs, I had no idea it came off their new album and I couldn’t hear any introduction it was given but just from the widespread acceptance in the room and the full on deep knowledge and love for it, I assumed it was an early track from an earlier album. I was wrong, it’s track three on their recent LP, so there you go. Musically it’s heavier than an angry elephant pissed off and hating its parents because it wasn’t allowed to trundle off to the circus. The heaviness might make you think it’s an angry song but it’s about acceptance and inclusion, no wonder the crowd had taken it as theirs so quickly.
Degrees of Seperation came at the half way point, it’s catchy and melodic and it seems to be about loneliness and missing people, something that a band from Australia currently in a cold and rainy Manchester might know plenty about.
The mosh pit at the Academy is by this point in full swing, or full mosh, if you will. My friend leans over to me and tells me that its infact pretty tame as mosh pits go, but as she talks I’m already figuring out a way of getting into it. It doesn’t happen though, for the rest of the night I have to be content with bouncing like a maniac by the sound/light desk.
Stillwater grabs me because it’s a bit slower than others, it doesn’t rise to the frantic blood pressure rising levels of some others but its relatively laid back stance works because you can pick out the singers words. This song seems to be about the innocence of childhood and how everything negative is learned and comes with age. How did we gain the world and lose the moment?
Momentary comes next in the set (and follows on the album too); it’s a lyrical high point of the concert for me but there’s some really nice guitar work cradling the words and a really good outro too. The words seem to be about how small we are in the grand scheme of things, a spark, a click, an echo, dust… it may come across somewhat bleak but the song is quite beautiful and uplifting; the view in the song is from someone wanting to make a mark and stop floating in the world.
Perspectives is the penultimate song of the live set and it is seemingly a song about not being understood, or not conveying your meaning correctly; All my life I’ve tried letting you inside, see the world through my eyes and I see is time I’ve wasted. It’s an unapologetic song and the frustration in the singer’s words comes across musically.
New Romantics is NOT about Duran Duran or any British 80’s band, I think its title comes from the poetry more than the hair bands BUT there is some bass and some keyboards that will grab anyone. On the surface it seems to be another song about someone trying to find themselves in their environment, with all the experience life gives a person. If you are looking for a screamy stompy moshy few minutes, this is the one and it’s an awesome choice to end a gig on. The whole crowd agreed.
There were songs from other albums performed too, but I wrote about the tracks from Dissonants because the seven here were the ones that compelled me to buy the studio album. I’ve not changed a word I wrote immediately after watching them live on a rainy Wednesday night in Manchester but having listened to the album in the two days since the concert I must say Division Symbols is a tune and Glasshouse is a piece of work and I couldn’t leave it out. I don’t know whether the song is about depression or anxiety but it rings those bells for me in the way the singer sings about storms, tides rolling in, and being trapped in darkness. You don’t have to be in the club to love the song, but if you know the feelings this song will speak to you.
All in all there’s a lot on Dissonants to pull you in. The album has songs of inclusion, isolation, longing for the past, longing for acceptance, wanting to be heard, being true to yourself and celebrating life. Hands Like Houses manage to present it all in a package that’s never too deep and dark, the stories on the album might be about struggles but listening to them is far from that.
If they seem like something that is outside your experience, trust me, they wont be as far as you think. If anything I’ve written here makes you think, give the songs a listen, they may speak to you. I’ll be seeing HLH live again and I look forward to it.