Between the second and third song of Manchester duo Demons Of Ruby Mae’s set, vocalist Jonny Gavin politely but firmly hushes those chatting in the crowd. It’s a gutsy move from an act so near the beginning of their career, but perhaps not as brave as blending flickering, trippy beats and keys with a coarse voice more often associated with The National and the like.
It’s not to say that it can’t be done; Dave Gahan’s angst-ridden vocals have complimented the electronic spine of Depeche Mode’s back catalogue for years, but DoRM’s output is something more stark and stunning, almost as if Cherry Ghost had fronted The XX. And a sound so intricate, where each snare snap matters, rightfully demands the crowd’s full attention.
Their short set sees songs already shared on Soundcloud (recent single ‘Summer Night’, where chunky chords splash with twinkling synths) with newer tracks, including vinyl-revival-and-then-some ‘Records’ (“Take me to your needle… Got me seeing records about my life.”), creating something so mesmerising that when Gavin declares that the next track is “a chiller”, you half expect to be levitating by the last note. Whether by the pained notes he holds, or Adam Rowley’s ability to quickly switch from machine to machine, the songs are still, stunning moments, only made stronger when the two share vocal harmonies.
‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’ and early fan favourite ‘Volcanic Mouth’ (part piano-lead intro of Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’, part Florence’s ‘Dog Days Are Over’ stop/start stomper) offer more upbeat efforts, but the craft of their more delicate moments is what makes this duo something special, particularly when it can turn a cover of Madonna’s ‘Hung Up’ into something that could easily be mistaken for a track from the second half of London Grammar’s debut.
As Gavin gives the crowd a “cheers for your ears”, his natural stage swagger is cemented. It’s not rock ’n’ roll, but if recent claims that rock ’n’ roll is dead are true, DoRM’s sweep ’n’ hold could be the silent assassin to take over, with Jonny Gavin’s demands already being met by the third song of the set.