Live Review: Unto Others - Star & Garter, Manchester
22nd March 2022
Words Neil Bolton
Photos: Rich Price
Distorted fuzz and feedback greet the music fan on this Tuesday night as the black robed London duo Zetra begin their support slot. They play a strange mix of guitars and keyboards that provides an 80’s vibe to their sound, mixing with clean high-pitched vocals.
Samples and drum loops are all provided by the keyboard shaving off the organic sound and feel we all enjoy, but Zetra’s tunes do contain the occasional punch, along with the passing nod to artier side of rock. This punch is demonstrated perfectly when, midway through the set, a ferocious riff is followed by a breakdown so grubby it could have emanated from the guitars of Florida’s Obituary, breaking down the poppy/synthrock atmosphere for just a moment. The strangest thing about this set was the band seemed to dislike even being there, at no stage did they ever thank, look at, or even acknowledge the audience. Not even the collapsing of their make shift screens at the front of the stage could bring a human response from the pair. All this just felt strange and I am not sure if this was intentional or not.
When the mid set background music fades and Rush’s Subdivisions blasts through the P.A. you know the band are imminent. Sure enough the four piece walk past the front of the stage, up the short steps and take their places like true rock stars. The opening track from the excellent album 'Strength' kick starts the set tonight and it is immediately apparent that Gabriel Franco is singing to the converted. Every word is sung by the excited crowd, and every “Ough!" and "Ahhh!” is perfectly mimicked also by the worshiping mob. The front row have already removed their leather jackets, cast them to the floor and lost themselves in the music. We are then proudly reminded that Unto Others are from Portland, Oregon leading on to the giddy idea of more international acts once more returning to our shores.
Franco’s vocals on record have the ability to convey sorrow, anger, and melancholy all in one line so it seems a shame the mix of tonight’s show is not as sharp as it could have been. Still the crowd don’t seem to care, displayed perfectly when 'Nightfall' from 2019’s album Mana is performed and the same amount of love and sing along enthusiasm is displayed, proving these fans are not just here because they have heard the current album.
Sebastian Silva shreds away occasionally switching places and joining Brandon Hill on bass and backing vocals. All this running around never once causes them to miss a beat of drop a note and obviously adds to the entertainment factor of the evening. And talking of beat Mr Vranizan’s drumming skills are pin point sharp, fast and smooth. There is no doubt Unto Others are the real deal, both on record and in a live setting. The fact that Hill takes himself and his bass off the front of the stage, past the worshiping front row to get himself a beer to then return to his station only adds to the rock n roll feel. The triumphant 'When Will Gods Work Be Done' rings out in Manchester and a cover of the Ramones’ 'Pet Cemetery' keeps the tradition of mixing the setlist alive. An impromptu “Ough”-off develops between band and crowd once more adding to the air of enjoyment, mixing in well with the dark gothic rock and metal music.
Despite the muddy sound and the fact the house lights could not be turned off an excellent night was had by band and crowd. Bigger and bigger things are in the wings for this excellent band with killer tunes rock star poise.