The Music, ICA, London

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The Independent Culture

DJ Saved My Life was a week-long fundraiser by Amnesty International, part of its campaign against the growing pervasiveness of gun violence. On Wednesday, northern scallies The Music headlined the evening curated by the former Factory Records supremo Tony Wilson, who earlier in the day had given a talk on the music business. He is a man who knows a thing or two about northern guitar bands, having signed Joy Division and Happy Mondays in his time. So one tends to listen when Wilson introduces The Music as the "greatest young guitar band in Britain". Well, they are certainly young, and they shamble on to the stage in an almost apologetic fashion.

But once the band begin their set, it is lead singer Rob Harvey who immediately catches the eye: he's a beguiling presence, strutting and shimmying across stage, a blur of movement. Charismatic and confident, it's only between songs that he sounds his age (none of the band is over 21), restricting himself to soft "thank yous". His singing voice, though, is penetrating - high in pitch and slightly nasal in tone, it succeeds in carrying above the guitar sound that is bludgeoning away below.

The Music rely upon a heavy, near-epic sound for impact, with an emphasis on feedback and long guitar-sparring sessions that often lapse into an unmelodic dirge. The first few tracks pass without distinction, the generic guitar sound and the lyrical babble about "freedom" alleviated only by the drumming of Phil Jordan, whose rhythms manage to carry the band through some pretty uninspiring stuff.

But when they're good, as they are on a handful of tracks here, The Music are very good indeed. The single releases from their eponymous album are undoubtedly The Music's strongest material and make up a rousing middle section of the show. Starting with "The People", a suitably demotic call to arms that contrasts a soaring vocal from Harvey with a rolling riff from the lead guitarist, Adam Nutter, The Music begin to get a real atmosphere going. They then pick up speed with "Turn Out the Light" and "Too High", which showcase the band's strong points: good tunes projected through a great wall of sound. They then launch into the set's high point, "Getaway", that begins with Harvey asking rather tenderly, "What's it like up there/ Do you worry any more/ How's it feel up there/ So much left to say..." which for the first time offers some form of lyrical depth before turning into a roaring psychedelic jam.

There's a brief and slightly incongruous acoustic interlude with "Jigsaw", but we're quickly back on more familiar ground with "Take the Long Road and Walk", the most rapturously received song of the evening that plays to The Music's strengths. There's time for one more instrumental session before they slope off stage, young men waving shyly to the crowd, with a couple of belting tunes in their pockets, and hopefully more to come.

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