Review: Head Automatica with Worship [Live]

By ajcolores

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A sunny August night in a city that’s spawned its fair share of lyrical pop geniuses is pretty much the only setting in which anyone should watch a band like Head Automatica and tonight in a venue squeezed in between bars offering cocktails for two quid a pop a plethora of different stereotypes are doing just that. From the metal heads, the tattooed punks, the middle aged men, and those who look like they love nothing more than to throw some shapes to the latest ‘pumping’ chart hit the one thing that you can definitely say about Head Automatica is that they, like their fans this evening, don’t fit easily into a safe category.

Picking a support act that’s going to please everyone then was never going to be easy and while the response to Worship is tepid to say the least they’re a band worth taking note of. The venue may have stayed largely silent, but that’s more an issue of stage presence than bad music and hopefully something the trio will pick up from maestro Daryl Palumbo along the way. Their chilled pop vibe with likeness to New Order, Hot Chip and the moodiness of Morrissey and The XX is certainly captivating and they’re sure to have made a few fans in Manchester tonight. If you like your pop a little more left-field then Worship are a band you will be able to lose yourself in.

“Enough with the fucking drummer, I’m right here,” shouts Daryl Palumbo twisting his torso to the audience as he responds to the girls clearly looking for a post-show hook-up with drummer, Steven Heet. This is Head Automatica and while the rest of the band, made up tonight of Rick Penzone and Jessie Nelson might be great at what they do—Penzone was knocking out some insane bass largely unnoticed at the side of the stage—everyone is here to see Palumbo and he knows it. If he didn’t then the odd shout of, “Play some Glassjaw,” pretty much had it covered.

WATCH // 'Beating Heart Baby'

He’s a man that panders to the crowd just enough to keep them wanting more , raising his shirt to his brow when there are calls for him to take it off, and while he’s every bit the exhibitionist it always seems confident rather than arrogant. His tiny frame throws itself around the stage leaning as close to the audience as possible without falling into them as they play some old new songs like ‘Spitzer’ which comes with a delightful tale about a New York governor –no naming names-and some hookers. It’s fast and laced with disco pop synths that everyone in the room is quite clearly trying their best to gyrate to without coming on to the people around them; though in some cases that can’t be said.

Though Head Automatica are by no means a one hit wonder band there are of course certain songs that everyone here tonight wants to lose their shit to and if you’ve heard of the band then you’ve certainly heard of ‘Beating Heart Baby’, it’s practically their manifesto. It is for many in this attic venue the perfect pop song and so to change it would be sacrilege. So,what does Daryl Palumbo go and do? Well, as confused faces look around just about recognising the opening words, “Beating hearts baby, baby is this love for real?” it’s apparent to everyone that this is not the song they know and love. The track was morphed by the band into a slow bass heavy drone of a track that Daryl drawls his way through as the audience reluctantly join in.

It’s a daring move by the band especially by a band that doesn’t hit these shores very often, but it’s definitely memorable and keeps people talking, besides it’s a damn good cover version with just enough charge to keep you moaning explicitly back at the stage. More bands should give their hits this treatment. Before approaching ‘The Razor’ with the same stripped back jar they provide a surprisingly needed pick me up with tracks like ‘Nowhere Fast’ and ‘The World Is Not Enough’ which would have been a much better James Bond theme than whatever dullard they gave it to for that outing.

Everyone here has probably been waiting for this evening with high expectations for a while and so everyone seems a little despondent as they undoubtedly feel short changed by the whole affair—they didn’t even play for an hour—but Head Automatica manage to go out on top with a full blown pompous performance of ‘Brooklyn is Burning’ complete with arm thrusts and loss of self-control. This is what Head Automatica do and damn if they don’t do it well. It doesn’t really matter what you think of their songs, or how pissed off anyone was that they changed them and did something interesting, because they do this for them and it sure as hell shows as the four smiles on stage prove.

LISTEN // 'Brooklyn is Burning'

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