The greatest challenge facing this band is that it is haunted by the ghosts of a completely different band. Let’s get this fact out of the way: Paul Arthurs, better known as Bonehead, used to play in a band from Manchester; that band was Oasis.
Bonehead contributed to some of the most important songs of the 90s, and a cursory check on your iPod will reveal the fact that in some way or another he has directly impacted on the sort of music you listen to, and they way you listen to it.
Here’s the thing, Bonehead left Oasis. Bonehead moved on. In order to get the most out of The Vortex we have to let him move on, and maybe, just maybe, move on with him.
For starters The Vortex is not trying to be Oasis, on that basis alone we have to draw a line in the sand and start judging them on their own merits. The sound of The Vortex certainly feels more collaborative effort than, shall we say, that other band, which is quite a rewarding experience for the uninitiated. There are a lot of band members; in fact a first glance at them makes you think more of an orchestra than an indie band. But there we go looking for a pigeonhole again. It’s a band that makes you contradict yourself, which isn’t to say it’s a confusing experience or that they don’t know who they are or what sort of sound they are going to make, just that we have to leave our baggage at the door to get the most out of them.
On the night the band took in some of the support sets from the side, which was nice to see; this is a band about the music, not just waiting to fill their slot and then disappear. When they took to the stage the inevitable surge nearly took some photographers and cameraman off their feet; you don’t like to laugh but I think the band were pleased that they already command this level of respect and admiration. And how quickly you forget that this essentially a brand new band! The band performs with a genuine confidence and sound as rich and accomplished as if they had been together for years. In terms of a tracklist songs like ‘All Over Now’ have an anthemic quality which leads you to think more of this being a greatest hits collection than a band just starting out. The banter between the largely Mancunian band and a certain Scouser from the audience (was it Ant from Rebel Soul Collective..?) helped bridge the instrument changes between songs but to be fair the band have enough character to independently keep hold of a crowd’s collective attention.
Selling out venues like The Maze is a very good indication that this band has the potential to go on to achieve the greatest of things. If only we can accept that we don’t need to look at Bonehead and scan across the stage expecting to see the brothers Gallagher then we may have cracked it, and as such about to gain ourselves a new band to play to death on our iPods whilst we queue for tickets for their next gig.