Live review: Rolo Tomassi

The Deaf Institute, Manchester Monday, January 18

The first of three new songs from soon-to-come second album ‘Cosmology’, ‘Party Wounds’ seems capable of creating the very grinning gashes that its title suggests. So far the signs for the [a]Diplo[/a]-produced new record are good – fluttering between metalcore growls and organ-effect synths, there’s little evidence of dancey polish for the sake of it.

‘Abraxas’ is up next, with Eva Spence’s tiny frame projecting the vocal anger of a lioness with nipple-ache, then, in the blink of an eye, the harmonies of a Yorkshire choirgirl. ‘Jealous Bones’ and ‘Beatrotter’ follow, before another new tune, ‘French Motel’. It’s a dramatic situation; in the same two-minute breath gliding from classical undertones to metalcore-fronted thrashtronica. They may have bagged a producer who’s at home remixing Britney and Kanye West, but the commercial aspect of RT’s new songs remain as accidental as the first lot; it’s much-needed futuristic chaos, but not as your local DJ may know it. This is the crux of Rolo Tomassi and also proves how much they’ve grown up in this last year. Their furore may once have been dismissed as impressive-but-simple teenage rebellion, but now they’re really revelling in all their perplexing glory.

The final new song exhibited tonight is ‘Kasia’, which does have a more disco tendency – this is the song you can really dance to. Backstage, pre-gig, Eva downs a shot of Jägermeister and explains how it deals with “the times you’re on tour, when you’re away from the people you love, how it effects those relationships. But they don’t change; good relationships stay the same”. After the head-banging reception given to this newie, the same could perhaps be said for the obvious love the band’s fans hold for them.

With James now stagediving, ‘Scabs’ and ‘Film Noir’ incite final moments of mayhem. Ending with the melting-circuitboard racket of ‘I Love Turbulence’, the quintet depart, Eva thanking everyone for coming and wishing them a good evening in her surprisingly gentle, almost timid speaking voice. But that deal was already sealed.

In 2010, Sheffield’s Rolo Tomassi still have the looks, the talent and that essential ability to ravage a live audience. As performers, their confidence is comfortable and ever-growing, and their determination to produce music that holds as much confusion as meaning remains solid; it would be foolish to underestimate what this band will deliver next.

Kelly Murray