Manchester Castle Quay

It's early-Factory, with oestrogen, attitude and no-good men to put down.

High concept or council regulations? Either way, we’re by a canal, in the urbanely regenerated Castlefield, watching New York’s all-girl [a]ESG[/a], renowned, musically, for their icy otherness and use of big open spaces, play on the other side of the water.

[a]ESG[/a], of course, are unfazed. In the early-’80s, they played their no wave amalgam of hip-hop, funk, disco and art-school punk at the closing night of Paradise Garage, and the opening of The Hagienda. They’ve seen it all. And have, over 22 years (two of the original members’ daughters now play bass and guitar), remained implacably [a]ESG[/a].

They still look, with the exception, perhaps, of guitarist Chistelle (blonde wig, shades, gloriously aloof) like they’re just off out to catch Grandmaster Flash, somewhere in their native South Bronx. And the tunes, old and new, stick to the original blueprint: tight, rasping drums, great hollow clatters of percussion, dabs of bass, cheap guitars, arresting disco yelps and sassy incantations.

It’s early-Factory, with oestrogen, attitude and no-good men to put down. Repetitive and sparse – be it the space-age, broken R&B of ‘The Beat’, the rubbery, disaffected ‘You’re No Good’ or ‘UFO’‘s doleful, faux-‘Psycho’ whining – this is a dark-funk hypnosis, and it doesn’t altogether work in these circumstances.

They’re as odd and funky as ever, but they’re playing a far from varied set at a less-than-commanding volume, somewhere over there. Large clumps of the crowd are happy to chat amongst themselves. In a hot basement, however, where they could draw us into every shiver, we’d be rapt. [a]ESG[/a]: come back soon.