Sounds - March 5, 1983

The Birthday Party - Manchester

A funeral pyre for rock'n'roll. The last rites, the final nail in the coffin, a durge of lament. This is the Birthday Party.

In the same way that Goddard inspired the counter cinema, so the Birthday Party have developed a viable counter-musical movement, using methods of estrangement, incoherence, and openendedness, their's is an alternative to Top Ten Pop Pap just as Goddard is an alternative to Hollywood.

But unlike Goddard, the Birthday Party have created something that does not reject the pleasure principals. If most popular music is a drug that simply lulls the militancy of the masses, then the Birthday Party have hit upon a formula that is just as enjoyable, but inspires action.

For them, life has been a black rainbow, culminating in The Bad Seed, which is won throughout tonight's set. While 'Junkyard' was a crazed, near perfect eulogy, The Bad Seed is a definitive statement, a perfected discourse of fissure and malcontent.

Unfortunately, there are the Hacienda's notorious acoustics to combat, Mick Harvey's drums lacked their usual forceful resonance that makes him so important. Tracey Pew's bass growled adamantly, but Rowland Howard's guitar rarely reached the furious frenzy of its vinyl outings. Still, he provided those disconcerting howls and crashed distinctively, brought out by mistreating his tremelo arm.

Inevitably, Nick Cave is the capitalist through which everything permeates. An unorthodix front man, both awkward and natural, he twists, turns and topples. When he falls, he falls - crash! He tumbles to the wooden floorboards of the stage. Thump, thump, go his twitching limbs, motivated by their nerve endings, searching for relief.

Still there is no place to hide for warmth and solitude. This is a private world made public by pleas from a collective heart, urging humankind to reject and destroy.

Like a latter day Jim Morrison, he forges a path of self destruction, a riotous belief into certified oblivion. Bringing the worst out of his followers, he abuses and misuses them. Tonight a packed dance floor prevents the psychobilly section from reaching their accustomed heights of delirium, but still "a good time is had by all".

Without simply speeding through pummeling thrash songs, the Birthday Party also ponder and plough. 'Deep in the Woods' is the finest example of the slower side, simple but effective, a heart crying out against loneliness.

'Sonny's Burning' seals the statement. Perhaps their finest moment, the essence of the dream, it says everything. Hard and dramatic, passionate and fervent, it feeds from all experience into a cohesive whole. More is required.

An unexpected double encore provides the chance of a final fling. 'She's Hit' steals into the air like the peal of church bells. Sex, vampire, lust and leer. The Birthday Party should be celebrated. Flame on!

- Dave Roberts