For fans of Owen Pallett, his show at Manchester’s Band On The Wall has been one of his most anticipated, as his first show in the city for well over a year.
Although his show was to be supported by a band, he initially walked on to the small stage alone to a garish electro track that mimicked sirens. This seemed like a mistake when it wouldn’t stop and he joked that this should always be his walk on music.
Launching straight into ‘Midnight Directives’ from his last album Heartland, it was clear that Pallett is an incredible live musician. Without his band, he uses a mixture of pedals, buttons, loops and pure skill to turn his one violin into a whole string section. He uses varied and simple techniques that most people probably wouldn’t even think to draw the most amazing sounds from his instrument. Small things such as using the bow upside down or plucking it like a guitar bring new life to a classical instrument. Beautiful to listen to, he is mesmerising to watch as he pieces together each song layer by layer.
After a few songs, his band joined him on stage adding a new dimension to the performance. The percussion and guitar add a little more atmosphere to the live element of his music but even with this, all eyes are still on Pallett.
He stands tall with his boots lying on the floor next to him so that his feet can feel the buttons and pedals. By about three of four songs in, he is dripping in sweat; some of this might be down to the enormous effort of being 90% of the band and some of it might be down to wearing a hat in a hot room.
As with every musician releasing an album in the near future, he scattered the set list with new songs. At total ease with the crowd, Pallett joked about playing even more new material, but the songs went down great, which is a confident sign for the new album.
As it got towards the end of the set, Pallett showed that he’d done his research, noting that his last album ‘Heartland’ didn’t sell well in the UK. In response to this he decided to treat the crowd to the music he assumed the crowd wanted to hear: the old stuff (though, Heartland material was appreciated equally as well). His band left the stage and he took requests from the audience for a few songs including live rarities such as ‘This Lamb Sells Condos’.
Returning for an encore, he apologised for appearing to milk the audience as the dressing room is really far away. He brought his boots back with him only to place them down on the floor again, unworn. Pallett chose a song that he claimed no one else had ever heard before and ended, of course, with his “big hit” ‘Lewis Takes Off His Shirt’.