There is a lot of truth behind the idea that ‘less is more’, especially as far as Manchester’s The Slow Show are concerned. With a name that manages to effortlessly encapsulate the band’s ethos, the Manchester-based four-piece harbour an innate ability to craft emotionally charged narratives, delicately layered across richly detailed compositions, which in turn, first appear to be within a minimal framework.
Though impressive, it should come as little surprise, especially when taking in to account the band’s varied influences and backgrounds, musical or otherwise.
Frontman, Rob Goodwin explains: “Musically of course we have influences but as a band we've always been more influenced by other areas of life; art and literature are big parts of our lives, but the mundane, the ordinary day to day aspects of life are fascinating”.
And though the literary influence of authors such as Karl Ove Knausgård might not be obvious to everyone, the classical training undertaken by Frederik 't Kindt (keyboards) or the jazz and orchestral aspects of Joel Byrne-McCullough (lead guitar) and Chris Hough (drums) certainly would be.
Much like the relationship between fiction and real-life that has informed The Slow Show’s lyrics, the relationship between the classical and the contemporary has done equally with their composition. Rather than rest on any one aesthetic however, it’s the combination of the two that has provided The Slow Show with their own distinct voice.
Where their debut album White Water was a more aggressive affair, it was their second album, Dream Darling, which saw the classical influences flirted with on their debut really brought to the fore; the act of recording with a Berlin-based choir cementing their classical links, as well as their links to the Continent.
Europe itself has played its own unique part in The Slow Show becoming the band they are today. With crucial early shows in Switzerland as well as the aforementioned Germany teaching the band the importance of on-stage intimacy, geographic influence can’t be overlooked, especially when considering the fact that Kindt himself is a Belgian national, and Goodwin has since relocated from Manchester to Düsseldorf.
Far from being a band to rest on their laurels, such change can only be a good thing as far The Slow Show are concerned. Having decided against playing live for close to a year, the band focused instead on the writing and recording of their new album due for release later in 2019. It was material from this upcoming album that was debuted at the band’s only live show of 2018, a sell out at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre, an iconic venue for which its storied past was the perfect fit the band’s disparate influences.
These influences are most evident within the sprawling grandeur or latest single, ‘Sharp Scratch’ (released digitally on 6th February 2019 on Play It Again Sam) - a four-minute epic that’s equally as fragile as it is imposing.
Goodwin says of their debut track from the upcoming album: “This song was written during a period of chronic pain and ill health. Whilst not explicit, it deals with the precarious nature of our health and the associated anxiety, hope and despair.”
Now with the endless possibilities of album number three stretched out in front of them, a handful of European shows announced in April and the promise of further touring later in the year, it seems that 2019 might well be The Slow Show’s year.
Dynamic arrangements with northern colliery brass touches with a nod to Americana, Indie-Rock. Wilco, Okkervil River, The National, Cherry Ghost, Antlers, The Band, Dead Can Dance, Tom Waits, T Bone Burnett