EX HEX: live review

Review by Anna Graham-Martin – Deaf Institute 25/5/19 (with apologies from Loud Women for the lateness in posting this but better than never!)

Ex Hex are one of the many bands I’ve discovered this year through listening to a lot of ‘women in rock’ playlists on Spotify, and when I began seeing their posters outside one of my favourite Manchester venues, I got quite excited to finally see these ladies in action.

As much as any fellow music lover, I have attended many a gig, but I have never been part of such an eclectic crowd as this one. At the front was an older looking, long haired rock uncle (you know the type), in front of me were a few younger artsy looking kids with bright coloured hair and denim jackets, then right next to me was a man I was convinced was Noel Gallagher for a good minute. It felt equally exciting and welcoming to be in an audience with such a vast mix of people, and to me it showed that Ex Hex’s music really can appeal to anyone.

As the Washing trio Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris glided on stage, I was in awe of the air of effortless cool that surrounded these three. Rock uncle dude was having the time of his life “wooing” as loud as possible and flashing the horns with an unbelievable energy. This undeniable coolness was only heightened when they began their opening number Another Dimension which came with such ease you could’ve told me they’d written it 20 years ago and I would have believed you.

Throughout the set, Timony and Wright shared out lead guitar and vocals, whilst Harris was constantly adding the perfect sound of some heavier rock drum work that was also beautifully simple that blended amazingly with the sound of the other two ladies.

Wright and Timony’s guitar work was incredible to me, especially during the extra long solo of Rainbow Shiner, where I was extremely captivated by them both and their effortless stage presence, and if I closed my eyes could’ve easily been at an old school rock arena concert.  Timony’s smile as she held her guitar up to the crowd, or put her leg on the monitor made my night and I have never seen someone look so humbled whilst having so much fun.

As Cosmic Cave began, I was pleasantly surprised as it was not a song I thought would hold as much weight as it did live, and at one point the friend I’d brought along turned to me and said “I honestly thought this was a Blondie song for a bit” and if that’s not a compliment I don’t know what is.  

I was surprised at the calmness of the crowd, despite Ex Hex’s music being easily moshable, if not definitely deserving of a hard boogie- maybe this was because of the slightly older average age of the audience. It was strangely refreshing to be listening to rock music without being punched in the face, but also having the freedom to dance like a mad woman if I wanted to (I did.)

Having been in a bit of a bad mood earlier that day, I came out of the deaf institute pretty damn refreshed and inspired by Ex Hex and even got a cheeky poster off the Institute door to remember the evening. For three women significantly older than me and most of the current bands I listen to- they sure rocked. All I can say is I hope I am that cool later in my life, and I hope they don’t leave it too long to come back to Manchester so I can introduce more friends to them.

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