The Magic Gang // Church, Leeds // 24.3.2018
After having spoken to band member Chris before the show, I felt extremely hyped to see The Magic Gang take to the stage and showcase some the new tracks from their debut album. I have seen The Magic Gang numerous times, something which quite embarrassingly transpired when the band requested for members to raise their hands in correspondence to how many times they had been to see them live. Yet, there was something different about this gig, obviously the venue was bigger, but there was something more, and I figured that is was quite simply the maturity level that the group had reached. Gone were the days of jumping into the audience and socializing with the crowd before the gig had began, but rather the four-piece had reached a point where a gig becomes a show, a spectacle and an experience.
Before The Magic Gang had even set foot on stage, the crowd was buzzing with energy. This was something that I partly attributed to the well-rounded support that came from the bands Boy Azooga and Our Girl, but mainly to clear sense of excitement to see the main act that had well and truly encompassed the venue. Right on que the boys from Brighton took to the stage, with drummer Perez pounding out a beat that welcomed the rest of the band on stage in primal fashion. The opening notes of ‘Oh Saki’ sent the audience into a frenzy, and at that point I was very pleased to be stood above the crowd. ‘Oh Saki’, underscored by its slightly heavier drum and bass line, immediately commanded the attention of the crowd. So much so, that as soon as the song had reached a close, lead singer and guitarist, Jack Kaye interrupted the set to remind everyone to “look after each other”, a reminder which was in many ways much needed.
During the interview, Chris had referred to how the band aimed for the album to emulate their live performances, and in consideration of this statement I soon saw just how well the band had achieved this. The next song, ‘Alright’ was a natural crowd favourite being one of the band’s first releases. Both energy and excitement were cyclical between the audience and band, and it was clear to see just how much the boys enjoy performing (this was mainly due to the smile that took up residence on their faces for the entire gig). It is this clear sense of pleasure that I feel makes fans so dedicated to the band as it’s easy to support an artist when it’s evident that they’re doing what they love.
After a few more songs, the four-piece reached a natural slow point in the set, a point that allowed them to show off their harmonizing. ‘Take Care’ was one of the songs that had been most looking-forward to seeing live, as it is distinctly different to the up-beat, bouncy songs that The Magic Gang are best known for. Gus, singing lead vocals took to the piano to play the song, a performance that for me was reminiscent of the low-fi style, and impressive vocal range of bands such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra. ‘Slippin’, was another personal highlight of the gig. The sublime harmonies that come through in the recording of the track were not at all lost in translation under the pressure of the live performance, with the band providing a vocal sound that the likes of The Everly Brothers would be proud of.
Leading through into the final section of the set, Perez came centre stage to announce that it was Jacks birthday, to which the audience, in unison, broke out in song. The Magic Gang then proceeded to close the set with an encore that fabricated with ‘I’ll Show You’ and ‘All that I Want Is You’, a song from their first EP. As the lights went down the audience were simply left lusting for more, and the buzz in the crowd continued as fans rushed to the merch stand to buy a lasting memoir of the night.
The Magic Gang have in my eyes managed to cultivate a live experience that I feel has largely been lost within the alternative music scene, an experience that is all about being lost in a sense of hedonism and mindlessness. If you haven’t already managed to catch the band live, don’t worry because they’re set to do an extensive UK tour with additional European dates at some point this year – so make sure keep your eyes open for that. For now, however, their debut album has been released, and I would highly encourage you to get hold of a copy. You never know, you might discover your new favourite band.