The Longcut: The Garage, London, Monday May 8

Epic Mancunian trio gain some variety without losing any quality

So here’s the thing: stripped of the attention initially brought on by their unique dynamic (leader Stuart Ogilvie spends gigs darting between mic at the front and drumkit at the back of the stage) and with the buzz that began back in late 2004 now in serious danger of waning, do The Longcut still have the capability to startle? With just one EP released in months, what the hell have they been doing all this time? And do we still care?

Not long into their set tonight and the not-at-all-subtle changes become startlingly apparent: there’s the fact that guitarist Lee has mastered the art of drumstick-assisted feedback cacophony and Stuart has learnt how to dance, but more importantly there are the songs. As the likes of still-incredible debut single ‘Transition’ and the epic ‘A Last Act Of A Desperate Man’ remind us, this Manchester trio have always known how to do disjointed death disco of the kind that makes you feels like you’re on Haçienda-strength E. Now, however, these moments are contrasted by the likes of ‘A Tried And Tested Method’, a jangling, yearning love song that is almost a ballad. What The Longcut have been doing, it seems, is evolving into a band who, rather than just being about bombast, are now capable of melancholic beauty too. Often, with the likes of newie ‘Vitamin C’ or highlight of the whole set ‘Gravity In Crisis’ (these are biiig titles, aren’t they?) in the space of the same song. And no matter how expected it is, it’s still phenomenally exciting to watch Stuart retreat to the back of the stage while processed beats patter and his two bandmates do their crescendo thing, all the while waiting for the assault of the drums to hit you. Even by the time they reach the closing ‘A Quiet Life’ and repeat the same trick they’ve already pulled several times throughout the set, you still just want it to happen again and again.

But that question again, do we still care? That’ll be a yes, then.

Hamish MacBain