Cabbage: Ruby Lounge, Manchester – Live Review
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Ruby Lounge, Manchester
28th October 2016

Louder Than War favourites Cabbage, mid-way through a UK tour, are touching base in home territory bringing their energetic  brilliance to Manchester’s Ruby Lounge. Writer Katie Clare and photographer Paul Husband went along to report back join in.

Mayhem heralds the opening moments as cabbage leaves and baby powder rains down through the neon highlighted dry ice, Cabbage make their entrance, complete with their own fish netted gimp and diapered adult baby. As the haze starts to dissipate, they launch into Uber Capitalist Death Trade: it’s impossible to separate the performance from the pandemonium. It rare these days for bands to so joyfully conflict with the prevailing mood of the time. The UK 2016 and it feels like a crisis is perpetually imminent, the populous content to selfie and self-medicate in lieu of even a spirited viewpoint on anything much and the weather’s still a bit rubbish.

Cabbage goes about the deconstruction of the national lethargy and inanity with astute cynicism and impish humour; perfectly pitched for this unsettled and somnolent era. Their punk in an integrated, nihilism avoiding way, politicised with a clear stance and healthy contempt, with a stark lyrical vision set against a dynamic musical backdrop. What Cabbage does with this is create, live, a communal thrill that will resonate beyond the boundaries of this club and this city.

Kevin is a wonderful dislocated distorted pop song with hidden depths, getting a grip on what makes it familiar is impossible; is its individualism merely perceived? The audience fervently sings along, zealously they paw at, Lee Broadbent, one of Cabbage’s fearless vocalists, pulling him off stage and into the mass of hands and bodies head first. Committed Broadbent continues singing, the crowd eventually returning him to the stage, although very nearly without his clothes but in one piece.

Tell Me Lies About Manchester has more vulnerability than any of Cabbage’s current catalogue, but don’t let this fool you into thinking that there is much endearment hiding under that cynical veneer. Bitingly derisive yet astute with it; should one night at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in 1976 define anything or mean anything to anyone not actually there? Joe Martin freed from his guitar, delivers a wonderfully unnerving and mind melting version of Dinner Lady. Taking on privilege in a grim provincial world of frustrated boredom Dinner Lady’s conclusion delivers an unsettling punishment on its designated authoritarian and privileged nasties; a track to ease your angst and ensure you’ll never eat quiche again.

For, Cabbage, the world’s political villainy is lyrically fertile ground which they blend with metronomic rhythms (a revitalisation of that old 4/4 beat) together with a consciousness of the modern world around them makes tracks such as Austerity Languish and NecroFlat in The Palace explodes with the energy, bluster and indignation of early punk rock, the critical social commentary of two tone and all delivered with their own distinguishing entertaining onstage antics. Musical hybrids can be short-lived diversions or they can truly have a radical impact on a generation. Time will reveal which category it will be, however, Cabbage are such a maelstrom of oomph it, sure hell feels like its the latter.


Cabbage continue rampaging around the UK throughout November/December as follows:

November 3rd The Venue Derby
November 4th The Magnet Liverpool
November 5th Blind Tiger Bolton
November 10th Purple Turtle Reading
November 11th The Green Door Store Brighton
November 12th The Underground Plymouth
November 17th Stereo Glasgow
November 18th Ku-bar Stockton-on-tees
Nov 19 The Sugarmill Stoke On Trent, UK
Nov 24 The Old Blue Last London, UK
Dec 17 O2 Academy Birmingham

Links for tickets and further information here or contact the venue for more information.

Cabbage support’s The Courteeners alongside The Charlatans and Blossoms on May 27th at
Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground, Manchester. Tickets available via the usual outlets including Gigs and Tours.

Cabbage have released a Limited Edition signed 10”vinyl Le Chou EP which is currently available for purchase here.

Cabbage are on Facebook and Twitter where the band tweets as @cabbagelechou.

All photographs are by Paul Husband. More of Paul’s photography can be viewed on his website  Paul Husband Photography, on Twitter and Facebook. 

Please note: Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal. If you wish to use /purchase or license any images please contact the photographer directly.

All words by Katie Clare. More writing by Katie on Louder Than War can be found at her author’s archive. She can also be found on Twitter where she uses @tokyo_katie.

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