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Upcoming shows: Rain Parade... Matthew and the Atlas... Gratis: Makushin... Beans on Toast... Lightheaded + Mt. Misery... Jake Xerxes Fussell... Andrew Wasylyk & Tommy Perman... Cat Clyde... Charlie Parr... Mock Tudors... Dominie Hooper... Steve Wynn... Ryley Walker... Terry Reid... Chime School... The Courettes... Douglas Dare... Tusks... Rachael Lavelle... Roddy Woomble... John Francis Flynn... Old Sea Brigade... Good News... Myriam Gendron... Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra... Kris Drever... Erland Cooper... Pokey LaFarge... Admiral Fallow... Skinny Lister... The Sheepdogs... The Unthanks in Winter... Emily Barker...

When: 7.30pm on Thursday 3 October 2024
Where: YES Pink Room, 38 Charles Street, Manchester, M1 7DB

We’re excited to welcome Douglas Dare back to Manchester – this time, to YES!

There was a moment onstage, at the end of his most recent tour, when Douglas Dare knew it was time for a shift. He’d released his angelic third album Milkteeth in February 2020, a month before the world turned upside down. A deeply personal, paean to longing and acceptance, the record ‘was all about me trying to make my parents proud,’ he says.

The subsequent shows were among the first to be cancelled. By the time Douglas finally got out on the road, he began to feel unusually vulnerable – just him and his autoharp, under the spotlight. He was a different artist now to the one who’d written such gentle, stripped-bare songs about wanting to please his family. After his debut show in his hometown of Bridport, Dorset, with his father in the audience for the first time, Douglas closed the chapter. He wanted to leap into the unknown, to feel completely free, and his new music was to follow suit.

‘I was like, I want to be able to dance to this,’ he says. ‘And I’ve never said that before about my music.’

Since 2013, Douglas has blurred classical, chamber-pop, folk and avant-garde to dazzling effect, with a startling voice that can stop you in your tracks. It’s why he’s played with luminaries like Nils Frahm, Perfume Genius and Ólafur Arnalds, and was selected by David Lynch and The Cure’s Robert Smith for their respective cultural festivals in Manchester (MIF) and London (Meltdown).

But Douglas’s fourth album, Omni, is a bold rebirth. Encouraged by Erased Tapes founder Robert Raths, he decided to step away from acoustic instruments, especially the piano he grew up playing, and swapped them for synths and drum machines. Label mate Daniel Brandt (of Brandt Brauer Frick) appears on production duties and the beat on Mouth to Mouth is the handiwork of Rival Consoles. The exceptional Teach Me, meanwhile, was made with long standing collaborator and 4AD’s in-house producer, Fabian Prynn. Douglas’s vision was one of ecstasy and euphoria. ‘I wanted it to be f****** loud and immersive,’ he explains.

His new music has much in common with Arca and the late SOPHIE, two artists for whom self-expression meant liberation. ‘I got to hang out in the studio with her,’ says Douglas of the latter musician, ‘the way she made music made a big impression on me.’ And yet Omni is steeped in the kind of deft storytelling, sweeping strings, elegant contrasts and fairytale atmosphere that marks Douglas out as a crucial and singular voice. It’s not often you hear a strutting electro banger that could have been straight out of 90s Soho, with vocal loops inspired by US experimentalist Meredith Monk.

For Douglas, Omni is about reconciling all those different sides of himself – the songwriter, the raver, the lover, the observer. He has a renewed confidence in his vocals, and testament to their strength, Daniel Brandt encouraged him to use the raw, unvarnished demos for the final songs: ‘This was me, sat at home, holding the mic, no pop shield, no booth,’ says Douglas. He’s also using his falsetto range and creative effects like AutoTune for the first time. The latter reflects the AI robot he’s inhabiting on Teach Me – a song that’s another masterstroke of dark versus delicate. ‘Your sweet seduction soothes me,’ he purrs, which could just as much have been the mantra for the entire album.

It’s a hugely queer record: seductive, sexy, lusty, untethered from the genre binary. ‘It’s even got sailors on it!’ laughs Douglas. ‘You don’t get more queer than that.

This show is a co-promotion with Homobloc.

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All shows are 18+ unless otherwise stated.