English Teacher are a young band on the up and up, they’re humble yet brim with such energy and passion for their music, that it’s impossible not to be charmed by the group.
YES’ basement is low ceilinged and sweaty, already. Before ET takes the stage, we are treated to dual support from Henry Carlyle and SPLINT: both of whom are on point, playing raucous yet emotionally intense, punky and soulful tunes. The Manchester crowd eats this up and by the time English Teacher comes on, the crowd is at fever pitch.
Fontaine assured me there were three new tracks in tonight’s set, one of which was the opener, ‘Albert Rd Part 1’. Before I could consider exactly what new English Teacher was going to sound like, they tore into a track that sounded like some of the most intense Black Midi or Squid cuts. The ferocious song was angular, frantic and heavy, it shines a light on ET’s punkier side, which the Manchester crowd relishes. Fan favourites ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ and ‘R&B’ are next up, once more met with cheers and howls of appreciation from the Manchester crowd.
English Teacher are such a tight and talented band – they play with intense fury and passion, but the fun they have on stage is palpable and the crowd feeds on the band’s energy. Frequently breaking into offhand jams and riffs, including an extended offhand jam when Fontaine was tuning up, which transitioned from groovy “lift music” into frenzied art-punk. Fontaine spills the beans though, “that may or may not have been a new one we’re working on”.
“This ones called A55 but we call it “ass”, Fontaine mused as the band launched into the cut: ‘A55’ is a highpoint in a set of highpoints, seeing the sweaty YES basement descend into raptures of dancing, ethereal swaying and rapturous sing-alongs. As Ass, I mean ‘A55’, grows into its transcendent crescendo YES becomes otherworldly: the intense power of this track’s heartfelt melancholia courses through every member of the audience.
ET are then joined by a cellist for Wallace, and the centrepiece of Polyawkward, ‘Yorkshire Tapas’.
‘Yorkshire Tapas’ is a marvel: Fontaine stalks the stage, professing a spoken word poem to the crowd, detailing a date at the pub: the band backs her up with short bursts of left field, punky jams, before allowing Fontaine to continue. The poem finishes and ET burst into yet another of their angular. Avant-garde punk jams, the intensity of the instrumentals recalling the intensity of Fontaine’s lyricism.
The show is over before you know it and the crowd files out of YES, as sweat drips from the basement ceiling. A truly fantastic show from one of the UK’s brightest musical prospects.
photo credit: Jonny Nolan