This Is Now: The Knife Visit Manchester for Their Final Tour

Last night was one of only 2 UK dates for The Knife’s Shaking the Habitual tour, confirmed back in August as the last prior to the split of legendary electronic outfit led by siblings Karin and Olof Dreijer. I first discovered The Knife several years ago when I heard ‘Deep Cuts’ being played in the Manchester branch of Urban Outfitters; I remember buying the album there and then after hearing ‘Heartbeats’ as I was really taken with their unique sound. Many people may not realise José Gonzalez was not the first to release this song, which was a big hit in the UK Charts back in 2003. Ever since, they’ve remained a staple in my music collection and I was thrilled to get the opportunity to see them in the city where I first heard their music. As one of a number of gigs for Manchester’s ‘The Warehouse Project’, this did not sell out, most likely due to The Knife not being particularly well known in the UK. This was only to the advantage of the crowd (including myself), who had a comfortable level of space and I had enough room for dancing/spilling my Captain Morgans and coke. I (along with my friend) travelled down from Teesside for the gig (a three and a half hour mid week slog) and learnt on arrival that Manchester Academy has a 11pm curfew which mean the band were on for less than 90 minutes which was a bit of a disappointment considering we are not going to see them again. Despite this, what the set lacked in length it more than made up for in imaginativeness and eccentricity. Someone shouts ‘I’m in love with your brother!’ (Pass it On) to a partially amused crowd and the gig gets off to a gradual start. Wrap Your Arms Around Me’ is a ghostly, understated performance and we patiently wait for the inevitable dancing to kick in characteristic of the bands’ YouTube videos. Then things really begin. Hypnotic dance beats overlapped with calypso drums, a signature part of the Deep Cuts album and at times you feel like you are in the middle of a carnival. The dance routines performed throughout the set were hilarious and we decided to spend the evening copying them. The student stood to next to me swayed drunkenly, gawping at the spectacle before him and further along another jumped up and down waving his arms having the time of his life. This mixed reaction reflected the diverse nature of the audience last night; a mixture of die hard fans and curious students keen to witness the hype surrounding the Swedish duo. Some of the set was mimed, probably due to the degree of dance routines performed but this didn’t impact on the crowds enjoyment. Towards the end, Karin spoke to the crowd in a quite frankly bizarre monologue which I found afterwards is actually a poem called ‘Collective Body Possum’. Without this knowledge, I did actually feel at this point like I was watching a live episode of Eurotrash. ‘I want a body with 2 dicks, 5 pouches and 15 holes!’. Er, alright love…. ‘Heartbeats’ was not performed during the set, a surprise considering it is one of the bands most well known songs. Someone I spoke to afterwards said it didn’t matter to them as the set was so good. I feel differently about this as I’ve heard them previously perform some awesome alternative versions of this classic (my favourite including a Top Gun’s Take My Breath Away inspired synth) so had really been looking forward to hearing it. The Knife are one of those bands where their live sound is by far superior to their album recordings. Although imaginative, the backing music can sound tinny and repetitive at times on their albums but their live shows really bring their music to life and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see them. We finished the night dancing to The Happy Mondays at 90s night in The Venue and the following day played ‘Heartbeats’ in the car on the way home whilst sighing wistfully…. For some excellent photos from last night visit