There’s a handful of words that when used to describe any musical artist would make me want to listen to them. ‘French’, ‘psychedelic’, and ‘duo’ are all words that feature prominently on that list, which is what led me to the basement of Manchester’s Soup Kitchen earlier this month to catch The Limiñanas’ headline tour.
After a quick listen to some of their latest album, Shadow People, I felt fairly confident of what the gig was going to offer. The band consists of drummer and occasional vocalist Marie, and guitarist, bassist, keyboardist and vocalist Lionel Limiñana. However, they had an additional five contributors, who somehow managed to squeeze onto the stage. Vocals were switched up between French and English, and shared across The Limiñanas themselves, guest vocalist Brigitte Gall and another unnamed male contributor. Overall the vocal sound that this combination created was reminiscent of a Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot sound – an effortlessly elegant sound which seems to be reserved for French artists.
Action elsewhere on the stage was perhaps a little less stereotypically elegant. Another of the guest contributors was a similar jack-of-all-trades as the main man, Lionel. He provided some of the more visually eclectic entertainment of the evening, and, honestly, probably stole the show for myself. I’m not sure if it was the highlighter coloured stickers adorning his selection of instruments guiltily reminding me of the revision I should have been doing, or the free-flowing display of contortion but myself, and the rest of the audience, seemed hypnotised. ‘Unnamed male contributor’ also treated us to some interesting ukulele play. I’ve never seen, nor heard, a ukulele played in such a way before, and I’m honestly unsure of whether I would like to again.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that whereas The Limiñanas had undoubtedly proven themselves as ‘French’, they had perhaps proven themselves as less of a ‘duo’. So how did they fare in their description as ‘psychedelic’? For me, somewhat disappointingly. Hauntingly beautiful vocals were too juxtaposed against loud guitars, with noise occasionally taking over a little too much. The gig on the whole was incredibly fast-paced, with songs often feeling sped up compared to the album. Whilst fast and psychedelic aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive, the “dreamy” quality that draws me to the latter felt somewhat swallowed up by the speed of the music. Consider that they made it through 22 songs in just over ninety minutes, you can get an idea of the pace of the evening.
This led me to another criticism, the whole event did just seem to drag on for a little too long. At times, it seemed as though two or three songs would be played in succession which sounded a little too similar, before a different sound was introduced ten minutes later. I’m not sure if this is best put down to a poorly organised set list, or the fact that as an act they just have a lot of songs which sound the same. Additionally, the set wasn’t broken up at all, there was little to no audience interaction apart from a call of ‘Do you want some more?’ prior to the encore, which didn’t even see them leave the stage.
That being said, it was still an enjoyable gig. It perhaps would have been a little more enjoyable had it been a little shorter, or a little more broken up. Overall, I would recommend checking out The Limiñanas, but maybe steer more in the direction of their albums over their live shows.
Shadow People, the latest album from The Limiñanas, is out now!