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Review: Psychedelic band Khruangbin play sold out gig at Manchester's Albert Hall

 

  • Khruangbin (Thai for airplane) played a sold out Albert Hall last Thursday.
  • Their latest album "Con Todo El Mundo" was released earlier this year.
  • They captivated the crowd with their signature loose-limbed flare.

 

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The Burton-based group, Khruangbin, layered piquant guitar-playing, slippery bass-lines and laid-back drumming to create a voraciously infectious sound that played as light as soufflé.

Fans stood mesmerised in awe of the skill on display as the band's lead guitarist, Mark Speer (who performs under the sobriquet ‘Marko’), elegantly ran his fingers around the fret board, never taking a moment to look at the strings, as if the guitar was less of an instrument and more an extension of himself.

Speer’s rousing performance naturally complimented Laura Lee’s mellow, almost soporific bass tones, both slotted perfectly into Donald Johnson’s (DJ) consistent drumming and keyboard parts, creating a buffet of sounds. Listeners could lend their ear to whichever facet they preferred, and with Khruangbin’s minimal lyrics, this added a dynamic that kept their music interesting.

Lee and Speer’s stage presence was relaxed, enthralling and intimate in equal measure, cultivating an atmosphere that felt as though you were watching friends in a living room after a party.

However, this in no way subverted the performative nature of the show, as the duo deployed synchronised dance moves in conjunction with Speer’s vibrato, or freeze frames landing on particular beats before they relapsed into fluid, confident movement.

This exhibition of effortless theatrics and camaraderie added extra impetus to Khruangbin’s already undeniable onstage authenticity.

The bands perennially laidback disposition was also evident in their interaction with the crowd. From Lee telling a story about her confusion regarding Mancunian colloquialisms, resulting in her calling a previous crowd “thick as f***” (thinking thick meant cool), or Speer inquiring with a rich southern twang, as to how the Albert Hall were “Singing along with songs that ain’t got no words in ’em”.

Khruangbin’s performance went beyond what is expected of modern musicians, boasting a style so unique that it transcends genre.

The show was three maestros at their peak, reaching echelons rarely seen in live music performances; a trio acting as one body. Their ability to connect to the audience via musical expression is unparalleled.

The setlist was of genius construction and naturally garnered a unanimous request for an encore, following which the group left the stage as they entered and existed upon it, drenched in applause.

 

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