Hey! Manchester presents Edwin R. Stevens w/ Secret Admirer
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We’re delighted to be welcoming Edwin R. Stevens – formerly Irma Vep – back to Manchester!
What does it mean ‘to go straight’? How did Metallica get to Nothing Else Matters after years of brutality? How did David Lynch come to tell his Straight Story? Like these artists, Edwin Stevens, long-time guitar mangler, distorted punk waste merchant and fecally obsessed author has loped off his gnarly edges and protrusions to reveal something not straight, perhaps, but something approaching pure and recognisable. God On All Fours is Stevens’ ‘straightest’ album to date and by far his bravest and most approachable. Edwin R. Stevens’ ‘straight story’ turns out to be a masterclass in storytelling.
Emerging from behind the shadow of his ‘singer/songwriter’ alias Irma Vep, Stevens perhaps reveals more of himself as a human being than ever before. If Irma Vep’s overpowering compulsion was for self-analysis bordering on self-flagellation (as hilarious and thrilling as that often was), under his own name his stories seem more well-rounded, more honest. It’s telling on album closer Some Things Are Best Left Undone, a cover of his own song as Irma Vep. The same song, a beautiful ballad, is rendered here simply and boldly with piano and voice in contrast to the scratchy guitar version recorded 10 years ago. It might be an intertextual joke given the song title but we can afford Stevens his own private mirth given the killer last line of the song and album: ‘The horse you rode in on just died and I swear I saw a tear in his eye / You thought that he might try say goodbye but he didn’t and you wonder why.’ Whereas the Stevens of 2013 might have covered up the core of his message with self-deprecating tape hiss or guitar brutality, here Stevens is telling his story, straight. His story, it turns out, is not one solely populated by ghouls, distortion and compulsion but one that we can all, horror of horrors, relate to. Just people doing people things, fucking up, stressing and relieving, living crooked or living straight.
Local support comes from Secret Admirer. Secret Admirer hope to create music that could have been written any time in the last 60 years. Front facing melodies and warming harmonies that speak as much of West Coast sunshine as they do Stockport rain.