“Existing to exist, life is meaningless!” rings around Manchester’s sweaty Albert Hall, midway through a raucous set from Australian punks Amyl and The Sniffers.
It’s hard to disagree with frontwoman Amy Taylor, as she stalks the stage with intense energy and a bleached blonde mullet / feathercut. Her Melbourne snarl depicts the frustration of a nation, though not her native one: as the UK builds up to an expensive and self-indulgent Royal Jubilee amid a spiralling cost of living crisis, the more politically driven and pointed aspects of the band’s third and most recent record, Comfort to Me are eaten up by the Manchester crowd.
Before Taylor & Co took to the stage, we were treated to an equally spiky set from Manchester band Bruise Control: their punk noise was a fantastic treat and an excellent warm-up for the headliners. Absurd lyrics and muscular riffs, combined with thunderous rhythm made for a great show, and the band’s evident enthusiasm for the occasion was palpable, which transmitted to every sweaty mullet in the Albert Hall.
Amyl and The Sniffers’ reputation precedes them: their UK shows are few and far between, though that hasn’t slowed any growth in their fanbase. The ragged, eponymous punk of their sophomore effort turned heads and burst ear drums with gravelled, fuzzy guitars and a consistent rage that is often lacking in other records which carry the ‘punk’ label. The group grew exponentially with Comfort to Me, as the quality of Amyl’s work progressed leaps and bounds. The new record is tight, fast and punchy – and includes some phenomenal moments of individual brilliance from each member of the band.
Amyl treated the Manchester crowd to a diverse set of cuts from all three albums, with the band clearly buzzing to be in the grand room with an adoring crowd. The Albert Hall’s saintly stained-glass windows gaze down in stark contrast to the piss and vinegar punk playing out in the grand old venue – ‘Got You’ ‘Security’ and ‘I’m Not a Loser’ are all firm fan favourites and inspire the kind of pit that is as terrifying as it is liberating. My view from the stalls meant I got a sweeping, glorious image of numerous circle pits opening up throughout the evening: superb.
‘Freaks to The Front’ was a real highlight, in a room made up of misfits, punks, and those who fall under the general umbrella of ‘alternatives’, the track is an anthem of pure punk subversion and counter-culture, an utterly glorious moment to behold. The set closes out with ‘Hertz’, the jewel in the crown of ‘Comfort to Me’ – the delirious crowd mosh, sway and crowd surf into a state of feedback and sweat-soaked bliss.