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Spiral Stairs – Soup Kitchen, Manchester: Live Review

Scott Kannberg AKA Spiral Stairs has been touring the world for years under his own guise as well as with Preston School Of Industry and alt-rock heroes Pavement (who have announced they’ll tour again in 2020).

His latest album, Spiral Stairs’ We Wanna Be Hyp-No-Tized, is another brilliantly quirky set of songs that have a really feel good vibe to them.

The small but warm crowd in Manchester got treated to an evening of fun that really tested the quirky vibe due to fudged curfew calls and a few sound problems.

Opening the evening were the brilliant Bull; an indie band from York, England. Their set was full of enthusiasm and plenty of songs delivered with firm smiles on their faces. The summery of Green opened their set with smiles everywhere on stage. Seemingly an unknown quantity to a large part of the crowd, the band got a great rapport with the crowd.

A few heckles and comments ensured comical exchanges between band and crowd. Love Goo is Bull’s latest single. A suggestive title is enough to raise a titter but when you throw in the use of a xaphoon, you’re onto a winner!

Spiral Stairs will have played a raft of gigs over the years, there can’t have been many that were so farcical and so much fun (at least for the crowd).

Sound issues blighted the bands enjoyment at the start as they played a selection of songs from their latest album. Once they (or rather the in house sound engineer) got things more aligned, the band played a crowd pleasing set that included a plentiful wedge of Pavement songs including Hit The Planes Down (including a little Step On snippet), Kennel District and Two States. Two States was bookmarked by a comment from Kannberg about them being a Fall/Pavement covers band.

Spiral Stairs. Manchester. 27th September 2019.
(Picture: Dominic Walsh)

The Fall were referenced several more times throughout the night, in particular snippets of Kurious Oranj and a wonderful anecdote about how Kannberg met Mark E Smith at Primavera Sounds in an elevator for the duration of a few floors.

Mark E Smith once dismissed Pavement as a Fall knock off. Plenty of their basslines and sounds do rely heavily on their influence, however the songs that Spiral Stairs play, and the way they play them ensures that they have their own style.

Kannberg’s vocal style is impassioned throughout the show. He moves between the dry deadpan delivery of lyrics (somewhat reminiscent of Warren Zevon) to the shouty post-punk stylings of the aforementioned influences. A cover of Nick Lowe’s Truth Drug saw Kannberg take to the crowd and dance and get in the faces of the punters in the crowd. The songs passion was stoked by the fact that the band had literally been informed they had to finish their set when they were seemingly half way through. The vicious delivery of the song wasn’t helped when the band were then informed that they had another fifteen minutes!

Clearly annoyed, the band said that people could have refunds, but the crowd said ‘no;’ just play a few more! A cover of Roxy Music’s Flesh and Blood (who’s face was emblazoned on Kannberg’s t-shirt) and Preston School Of Industry’s Whalebones closed out the short but very, very sweet night.

Sometimes, the size of the crowd is not an issue. Play to who is there, not who isn’t. On this night, the people there were lucky to have been there as this was a whole lot of fun…although a sweat drenched Scott Kannberg might disagree!

Sprial Stairs: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Bull: Website / Facebook / Twitter

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