King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard. The Aussie psych/folk/jazz/rock/psych rock/garage rock/prog rock/experimental rock seven piece completely obliterated the Manchester academy on Thursday 22nd February. It was a date that crept up on me, yet it was on my mind every day from the minute I purchased tickets. It was always going to be one heck of a special night, but i didn’t realise it was going to be THAT special.
The tour began with a huge sellout show at Brixton in London, followed up by this huge Manchester date at a sold out Academy 1. The band had shared details of two sets. One microtonal set, and the other, a compilation of their epic, psych rock belters.
Ahhh those microtonal riffs. I crave them. With the band kicking off proceedings with ‘Rattlesnake’ the crowd was sent into a frenzy., belting “RATTLESNAKE! RATTLESNAKE!”. I found myself being flung about like a their pray as the projector blasted projections of fast moving desert landscapes with a pixelation effect in the corner. The recreation of the music video to ‘Rattlesnake’ is possibly one of the most epic ordeals I have ever witnessed and they had only played one song.
The big ‘Gumboot Soup’ hitters ‘Greenhouse Heat Death’ and ‘All Is Known’ slotted perfectly into the set. ‘Greenhouse Heat Death’ and its bizarre lyrics were being screamed as the crowd pulsated with energy. ‘All Is Known’ enticed the same energy as ‘Rattlesnake’. Pints flying, lights scorching, and the multi-coloured graphic projections placing the crowd into the world of Gizz.
‘Nuclear Fusion’ was kicked off with a hilarious introduction as Joey cleared his throat, tilted his head back, and screeched from the bottom of his stomach “nuuuuuuuucccccllllleeeaaaaarrrrr fuuuuuusssiiiiooonnnnnn”. Even this song attracted chaos with people lighting spliffs in the crowd, endorsing in a more mellow approach to the show. Crowd surfers, and head bangers. It was all a bit crazy. But everything you’d expect from a show of King Gizzards caliber.
A duo of Sketches tracks were thrown into the mix. ‘The Book’ was played instrumentally and D-Day was also launched into the fold slotting in between ‘Anoxia’ and the fan favourite ‘Sleep Drifter’, which was turned from a below psych track, into a crazy, psych experience which blew my mind completely. The riff was altered, turned into a beast of a track when performed live.
Stu and Ambrose swapped positions, and with the flying Microtonal Banana being passed on to Ambrose, this meant that Billabong Valley was upon us. With Joey announcing “this is a song about Ambrose dad”. Like the other tracks, the crowd belted the lyrics back to Ambrose, as he cracked a smile. “Do-do-do-doom city, do-do-do-doom city” rang out the close of the microtonal set. It was triumphant, epic and genuine craze of soundscapes and blissful microtonal tunings.
Before leaving the stage, Stu repeatedly waves and looks behind him as a massive countdown appears, counting down the minutes until the next set. Stu walks up to the mic and says “right… see you in a bit. Ambrose has to take a shit”. A cheer erupts from the crowd. Stunning.
Aaaaannnnnnd we’re back. The Gizz reappeared and ready to go as they blasted straight into Nonagon Infinity belter ‘Evil Death Roll’. The crowd, after a short rest and the chance for a glass of water, were sent back into chaos. ‘Welcome To an Altered Future’ announced the introduction of Han Tyumi and ‘Digital Black’. ‘OOOOOHHHH’ and one hefty rift, ‘Digital Black’ reignited the chaos.
With Han Tyumi making his formal introduction to the 2500 strong Manchester crowd, the ‘People Vultures’ rift echoed throughout the venue. ‘The Lord of Lighting’ had sifted his gaze towards the academy and laid destruction in the wake of the crowd. ‘Lighting bolts and flashing sparks filled the air. “1, 2, 3 CELLOPHANE” yells Stu as the Im In Your Mind Fuzz banger is launched upon the audience.
The trio of experimental psych, story telling of ‘Polygondwanaland’, ‘Crumbling Castle and ‘The Fourth Colour’ paved the way to an epic conclusion of the set. The title track from the bands fourth album of 2017 allowed for a short breather as the unsuspecting crowd were greeted with the ten minute long, Goliath track ‘Crumbling Castle’. ‘The Fourth Colour’ sounded immense. It was perfect in ever way. The bands approach to these trio of songs was second to none. The soundscapes and the fast paced chord progressions were biblical. Out of everything that the band played, these were the three tracks that stood out as the most incredible to hear live.
Then a pause.
The immediate introduction to the next three tracks. The final three tracks. The highly recognisable taps of the hi hat, and the sonic boom of “OPENS THE DOOR”. ‘Robot Stop’ began the holy trio of ‘Nonagon Infinity’ psych rock epics that concluded the gig. Combine a bat shit crazy crowd, some intense visuals courtesy of the band’s music videos, intense drumming, and wild screams of “eyyyup” and “oooooh” from Stu Mckenzie, and you have possibly the perfect ending to a set you could think of.
‘Robot Stop’, ‘Big Fig Wasp’ and ‘Gamma Knife’ concluded what was probably one of the greatest live sets, from arguably the greatest live band of our current musical scene.
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard played:
- Greenhouse Heat Death
- Nuclear Fusion
- Open Water
- All Is Known
- Sleep Drifter
- The Book (instrumental Only)
- Billabong Valley
- Doom City
- Evil Death Roll
- Welcome To An Altered Future
- Digital Black
- Han-Tyumi the Confused Cyborg
- The lord of Lighting
- Crumbling Castle
- The Fourth Colour
- Robot Stop
- Big Fig Wasp
- Gamma Knife