LIVE: John (aka JOHNTIMESTWO) @ Deaf Institute, Manchester

Stomping, roaring, war-cries bring nihilistic abandon to the Deaf Institute as John returns.
Posted: 30 January 2020 Words: James Wolfe
After a successful 2018 supporting noise-rock poster-boys Idles on their European tour, JOHNTIMESTWO released one of the albums of the year in 2019 with Out Here In The Fringes and followed this with a KEXP appearance and a UK tour of their own. Tonight the band returns to Manchester and the Deaf Institute for another evening of frantic riffing and drums.

The scene has been well set for a surge of raw British punk rock, a label that many of the identified defenders resist. The sound typified by the aforementioned Idles, Shame and Slaves. John brings to that fray slightly less posturing and politicking - despite the t-shirt - and more heads down, growling riffing.

With little introduction, the two most unassuming gents in the world roar into life with thundering beats and heavily distorted guitars. The wave of sound hits the initially timid audience before slowly capturing them with a stomping unity.

John’s sound is stripped back with no bottom end, and in a live setting at least, little in the way of dynamics. It’s a constant onslaught of noise that delivers sonic aggression that captures the same energy that the audience reflect. Their songs may not be what you would call singles but rather abstract snapshots of antipathy to modernity and introspective exploration, carrying a bleakness and nihilistic freedom that is reminiscent of many early punk bands but delivered in a more controlled way.

Despite, or maybe because of, tonight’s audio bleeding out a lot of the nuances from John’s albums, their sheer spirit and impassioned war cry unify the audience into a single stomping regiment, a testament to the power of this impressive duo.

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