Live: Forest Fire & Phosphorescent @ Deaf Institute, Manchester


Forest Fire

You can usually tell what niche of music is in order for an evening’s entertainment by those there to witness it. This evening, I find myself in a sea of beards, and once one gets a glimpse of Phosphorescent and Forest Fire, both based in New York, it’s clear that in this instance, the hand fits the glove, so to speak. Forest Fire’s Mark Thresher is first to take the stage this evening and sets an intimate atmosphere with solely his voice and a guitar for assistance. Thresher’s voice is an oddly appealing one, that hits upon the nasal at times, but one that additionally conveys just how passionate he is about his craft.

After a soulfully delivered number, the rest of Forest Fire join Thresher to play an astonishingly varied set. The band swing between noisy, intrusive walls of sound that work themselves into every nook and cranny of the room, to intensely heartfelt, pensive songs, such as the classic ‘Fortune Teller’. The highlights of this particular set are definitely the freshly written tracks that are played towards the end of the set, however. And with an added side of icebreaker, such as “What are all of your names?” from Thresher, the audience seem to yield to the infectious charms of Forest Fire.

Phosphorescent are a heart-warming act, comprised of six enbearded men with all the American charisma you could want. Their set is opened with ‘Los Angeles’, released on album, Here’s To Taking It Easy this year. This is something the audience seem to be wildly happy about from the whoops and “yeah”s that arise from the crowd’s depths, and the reason why soon makes itself known. ‘Los Angeles’ is a beautiful song that swoops melodically about the room with a hint of mourning and nostalgia, making it that little bit harder to shake from the memory. It comes to about 9 minutes long overall, and makes for an excellent opening.

Scattered amongst the remainder of the band’s set is not only their own material, but also covers of Willie Nelson songs, which were released on album, To Willie in 2009. Phosphorescent play the unashamedly country-fied ‘Reasons to Quit’ and ‘It’s Not Supposed to Be That Way’ amongst others, to the blatant joy of the audience. After a brief break, the band return for an encore, playing the gorgeous, ‘South’ to end the evening. Pianos are set in amongst earnest lyrics here, and with the added disco ball rotating contentedly above the audience, Phosphorescent waltz their way into a sombre dream-like end to the show.

Words: Mary Machin

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