It’s an emotional day for fans of Manchester’s most underrated progressive rock band. Always seemingly on the verge of great things, and with two brilliant albums under their belt – 2009’s promising Fluent In Seven Types Of Monotone and its successor, the sprawling yet single-minded Riot Of Colour – they’ve nevertheless struggled to find the recognition they deserved, even with a cult following and decent support slots aplenty. For those that have travelled several city blocks or from much further afield, tonight is the last chance to see the juggernaut in action before its members disperse amicably due to relocation.
When Cyril Snear take the stage, it’s to kick off the evening’s entertainment with Pigs & Poultry, one of the more indulgent cuts from their debut LP. They’ve often been compared to cult Manchester proggers Oceansize and it’s probably as a result of tracks like this. It’s a sprawling, mathy beast with a devilish rhythm – carried by drummer Nick Roe and bassist Daryll Clarkson – under all the complexity.
Live favourite Professor Metcalfe In The Living Room With The Truth and sparse, start-stop Focus follow, both taken from Riot Of Colour. It’s remarkable how few bands get to have such a clean and good-natured end to their career – the Snear gang are clearly enjoying themselves, despite the occasional bittersweet smile they share between them tonight.
It’s impressive that even now, they’ve still got new material to play. There’s Jackknifing from their final mini-EP Boots On The Ground – which sees frontman Mike McKnight and Roe rather appropriately singing the line, ‘It seems such a shame to have to bow out like this,’ – and a brand new song, Sunday Seven.
Unusually, Riot Of Colour gets an airing, before the post-rock build of The Weight segues into Tool-like single How Presidential Of You.
Thanking everyone for coming down, the band then launch into AOM from Boots On The Ground to close the set. This provides a tantalising taste of where Cyril Snear were going with their music – it’s well-paced, nuanced and mature. Tragically few bands have the ambition combined with technical and songwriting chops to pull off work of this calibre.
As they finish, Nick Duke from Trojan Horse invades the stage to carry McKnight off. Meanwhile, the crowd mill about, unsure what to do now.
It would have been nice to have heard some of the heavier cuts from Riot of Colour, like Multiple Mono, Butterflies, Fifty Four or even the crushing Annex 01, but these are minor gripes. After all, their set is flawless in terms of musicianship and simply underlines what a shame it is to see this band depart the scene.
It is, of course, a small consolation that they leave behind such a body of work, with plenty for fans to pick over for some time to come.