Playing their second London anniversary show of their 40th year, A Certain Ratio helped mark Subterania’s own 30th anniversary celebrations by performing a special show at their venue, having played there 40 years earlier alongside Factory records giants, Joy Division. The band is formed of Jez Kerr (bass, lead vocals), Martin Moscrop (guitar, drums/bongos, trumpet), Donald Johnson (drums, bass, backing vocals), Matt Steele (keyboards), Tony Quigley (saxophone) and Denise Johnson (backing vocals).

The band began on an intro of ‘Winter Hill’ from second album ‘To Each…’, their set being altogether more experimental and fresh than ever before; they continued with early material from their debut album ‘The Graveyard & The Ballroom’ (although sadly omitting ‘All Night Party’), playing ‘And Then Again’, with Moscrop’s whirring slide guitar and Kerr’s plucky bass post-punk sound reminiscent of their Manchester contemporaries, Joy Division.

Continuing with their debut album, ACR included a rarity in the form of ‘The Fox’, before progressing onto newer material with their punchy Talking Heads cover of ‘Houses In Motion’, taken from their 40th anniversary boxset release earlier in the year.

The band’s unique sound in marrying funk and free jazz with traditional late ’70s Manchester post-punk was brought further to life in their expansive approach; the band’s new keyboard player creating even more original compositions than his predecessor has become an invaluable asset to the lineup.

They ended their main set on extended and more improvisational versions of ‘Good Together’ and 1986 Banbarra cover single ‘Shack Up’, coming back on for their standard encore of ‘Knife Slits Water’ and ‘Si Fermir O Grido’, the latter of which saw them do their usual percussion parade offstage into the audience to finish the show.


11/12/19: A Certain Ratio @ Subterania, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.