Cabbage enter the stage to Gimme gimme gimme by ABBA and disco lights. They shuffle around, as if to say “this wasn’t what you were expecting was it”, and head nonchalantly to their respective instruments. The bassist front center has a Hawaiian loosely buttoned, and he’s joined by his partner behind a corg keyboard, attired in smart trousers and a beige fitted shirt. Its straight out of Ian Curtis’ wardrobe.
Without needing an invitation, their latest self-titled ‘sing a long’ takes over. It’s an unexpected turn especially for a band heralded and loosely described as punk rock. As the jangly indie pop song endures I look over to my dad, wondering if I’ve made a terrible error in choosing this gig for his birthday present. It couldn’t have been further from the truth as it was then that a cutting, scornful line cut through the air and assuaged my doubts.
“AND I’D RATHER CUT OFF MY ARM! … than raise it to solute those who initiate the fear!”
The band leap into their stride – they barely needed an introduction- and the confidence oozes as tracks like “Dissonance” and “Gibralta Ape” are played with daring, glaring pomp. It’s the sound of an authentic young band relishing the chance to share their craft with the country that reverberates around the room and The Haunt takes an instant liking to them.
First album track ‘Fickle’ is swaggering with youthful audacity, and the many different layers to this new refreshing outfit are on full display. A vicious steady bassline chugs steadily under the spattering of explosive consonance by the front man in the opening line: “I’m the fick-e-lest f#-ck-#r in town” and it charges through the man in front with the Dead Kennedys shirt. With track names like “Uber Capitalist Death Trade”, “Post-Modernist Caligula” and “Nihilistic Glamour Shots”, it’s clear why a Kennedys fan has found his place here. Cabbage combine both the eccentrics and visceral energy of their neo/post-punk forefathers and yet provide something quite alarmingly new.
The vocals come as a two pronged attack, with the lead singer stopping his tirades on the microphone only to dance spasmodically to the intermittent rhythms of an omnipresent base; while his vocal partner occupies more of a reserved stature he’s equally comfortable delivering to the room with deeper tones.
“Tell Me Lies About Manchester” is all too aware of their hometowns cultural and artistic integrity. Bands like The Smiths and Joy Division need no introduction and Arte publication’s point is well made when they state the band come after a long line of ‘Sonic revelations’, credited to the former industrial city. Yet this track signifies -quite refreshingly- how the band have tired of the city’s gloating, overly saturated self-pride: “So fill my ears with the hacienda classics… and tell me lies about Manchester…I’ve had a pint with every person who’s ever played in The Fall… I’ve had numerous trials for [Manchester] City cos, I’m mega on the ball!”.
Cabbage, as the support act stated at the end of their set, are going to stick around for a while, but the raw intensity of them in these heady early days may not. So get your greens now.