Torres @ Soup Kitchen, Manchester, 7 Nov
Torres, aka Mackenzie Scott, adds physicality and ambition to tracks from across her three albums, with impressive results
It may not be worn by the headliner herself, but a sly choice of headwear by Paris-cum-Philly pairing The Dove and the Wolf sets the tone for tonight. With their sound nestling somewhere between 70s soft rock and dream pop, Paloma Gil and Louise Hayat-Camard’s gentle guitar interplay and cooing harmonies make them an immersive opening act.
Gil spends the whole set wearing a cap emblazoned with the slogan ‘Ass Man’; it's one of Torres’ newest pieces of merch, and the blunt physicality of it typifies the Georgia native’s new direction. Mackenzie Scott’s sound has come a long way since her raw, restrained debut record, as her latest LP Three Futures is built around skittering electronics and noodly, distorted guitars of the type St. Vincent busts out on the regular.
Scott’s Southern sensibility definitely remains as she smiles politely at applause between songs. Yet embracing her physicality on Three Futures looks to have made her a compelling stage presence too, as she struts, howls and gurns through Skim’s seductive groove, Righteous Woman’s muscly, mangled guitars, and the unhinged hoot of Helen in the Woods. Her older songs have gained greater heft too: New Skin’s crisis of faith is more haunting than ever, while Torres standout Honey – at once resigned and joyous – now sounds like the lush, soaring track it was born to be.
Wherever her ambition and new-found confidence are taking her, what makes Torres stand apart is her empathy. Three Futures’ languid title track is a break-up song of rare compassion, while Bad Baby Pie finds ecstasy in a near-death experience. As Marble Focus’ electronic patter builds into a searing guitar outro, Scott rests her head against that of a fan at the front of the crowd. It’s such a strikingly intimate moment it feels revelatory and revolutionary.
"I don’t do much with silence – I just kind of sit with it," Scott says as she returns to the stage for the thrillingly grungy Strange Hellos, having earlier thanked the crowd for their goodwill. The way that Torres is heading, people will soon praise her much more loudly.