Manchester-based champions of melancholy, MONEY, kicked off their latest UK tour at The Bodega last Thursday to promote the  recent release of their acclaimed sophomore LP Suicide Songs.

From mysterious beginnings (and a fair amount of moniker-altering) on the Manchester circuit a few years ago, MONEY have come to establish a dedicated following across the country, and, especially in the wake of a warm reception for Suicide Songs, it was unsurprising to see so many of their fans fill The Bodega for the first night of the album’s tour.

“The evening at The Bodega feels more like a drunken reunion of old friends, singing along soulfully with Lee’s spiralling, tumbling lyricism”

Since the release of their debut LP – The Shadow of Heaven – in 2013, the intervening period has presented the band’s frontman Jamie Lee with some documented personal difficulties, and these have unsurprisingly filtered into his songwriting; an endeavour that was already, if older tracks like ‘Goodnight London’ are anything to go on, inclined to introspective and despondent themes.

Quite surprisingly, then, the resultant body of work that MONEY have produced on Suicide Songs is not as decidedly hopeless as one might have expected. Indeed, the evening at The Bodega feels more like a drunken reunion of old friends, singing along soulfully with Lee’s spiralling, tumbling lyricism, fit to boot with crashing drum fills and the moving arrangements of an accompanying two-piece string section.

Part of MONEY’s charm is Lee’s fearlessness in boldly wearing his heart on his sleeve, and as such, he implores his listeners to indulge in what are clearly very personal lyrics. This confidence is evident, as Lee opened the set with a new, unheard song, that he performed for six or seven minutes with only his acoustic guitar to back him up.

After this, the rest of their hour-long set is made up almost entirely of tracks from Suicide Songs, with highlights including the swooning, ebbing momentum of tracks like ‘You Look Like A Sad Painting…’ and the uplifting, crashing chorus lines of ‘I’ll Be The Night’. A quieter two minutes are set aside for the album’s title track, ‘Suicide Song’, which has been defended as by no means a glorification of difficulties with mental health, but a soothing friend in times of personal conflict.

“This band creates a uniquely uplifting and unmistakably cathartic atmosphere, and that is where they derive their appeal”

The gig closes, as does the album, with the subversive take on the holiday season, ‘A Cocaine Christmas And An Alcoholic’s New Year’. All of the passionate absolution with which Lee cries “I’ve wasted all my time / On cocaine and Christmas and bottles of wine” on the album is ten times more palpable in the live arena, as the line is echoed around the venue by the gathered crowd.

On this evening, and I’m sure on many others from their various tours as well, this band creates a uniquely uplifting and unmistakably cathartic atmosphere, and that is where they derive their appeal. The honesty and glaring personality of the songs underscore the entire performance, and invite an undeniable sense of intimacy, not just with Lee, but with each performer, and each member of the audience as well. It is an exciting prospect to imagine where MONEY will go from here.

James Noble

James is currently listening to ‘Easy Rider’ by Action Bronson

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