The arbiters of taste, style and hip would have you know that reforming Madchester Acts, or the latest thing to seep slowly from south of the Mancunian Way, into the rabid musical fleshpots of Manchester are the things to be lending your ear to at the moment. There are any number of blogs aiming to ram this, that and the other down your lug-holes. I suppose I am as much to blame with my monomania on specific genres or “family trees” in the wacky world of rock and roll.
On Friday Night I heard Paul Morley enter into a conversation with himself, on that Late Night Review thing that Kirsty Wark does, about the validity or otherwise of BBC Introducing, and be remarkably clear on the dilemma of bands wanting to “make it” in the biz. Paul, like me, has been around a few years so he is seasoned in the experiences of watching musicians try to make progress in an increasingly unfriendly world.
You may wish to absorb all of this fresh new talent but I suggest you balance that out by taking in some of the newer bands emerging from the, shall we say, more experienced end of the business.
Last Thursday night I caught three bands at the Kings Arms who have collectively (with one exception) been around the business in this conurbation for long enough to be dubbed “elder statesmen” (although they will probably give me a good telling off for using that form of words). I had put this particular bill together in an attempt to get some experienced localism together for the first of the Salford City Radio Music Nights at the pub. There are, as there always are, linkages between the three bands in terms of past history, and there was sufficient old and new material between the members of the three bands to fill my colleague Stephen Doyle’s Sonic Diary show for an hour on the preceding evening. I use the word “caught” specifically here as for most the three sets I was outside the concert room on the door collecting money and stamping hands and generally chatting with punters who had come to see the gig. However the set-up of the Kings means whilst you don’t get the visual spectacle you can indeed catch the aural element of the performances in all its glory.
First up were Sandells who delivered 40 minutes of intense, loud and insistent music. From the mutant space rock of “Alien Intelligence” through the Can-like rhythms of “No Way Out” the band delivered a powerful set. They covered Neil Young, they did some improvising and generally they blew the roof of the place with Benson’s polyrhythmics, Lyons’s gargantuan bass, and Kloos’s pyschedelic guitar mastery. The first time I had caught a full set from them and well worth the wait.
Next up a stripped down Factory Star. Since the last time I saw them Tom Lewis has left (having migrated down south) to be replaced by Joe McKechnie who some readers will remember from The Passage (the Fall alumni family tree gets even more complicated as a result) and Pete Wylie’s band. Hop Man Jr has also hopped off having secured a solo gig nearby at Islington Mill for the evening. So we get a faster, more spiky and altogether less restrained iteration of Bramah’s band where the guitar comes very much to the fore. It’s at this point you realise how damn good a guitarist the man is with much the rhythm and lead work being combined into one excellent whole. After three rehearsals only this band managed to pull off a tour de force with Chris Dutton holding the centre with a bravura bass performance. Much of Enter Castle Perilous was delivered with vigour and passion.
And to close the utterly mesmerising Kill Pretty. Starting with the aforementioned Mr Doyle introducing the band by tearing a toy animal to pieces and then the band rumbling through a selection of their tasty tunes including “Brown Eyes”, “Emperors New Clothes”, “Stress” and the new and very wonderful “Year of the 13 Moons”. The drums are from the master of rockabilly Michael John Leigh, the bass is from a 15 year old whose skill and dexterity belie his years, his dad plays a mean guitar and the living legend that is Ian “Moet” Moss is the ringmaster, master of ceremonies and chief agitator over a group of musicians who, if you read the rock text books, should not be doing this together. Screw the text books say I, you don’t learn craft, toil, art and song delivery like this in a lecture hall on a BA(Hons) course in music performance. You learn this through experiencing life and all its’ ups and downs, by sweating in front of small crowds in small backrooms of pubs and by absorbing years of experience. Ian Moss’s masterstroke here is combining the youthful exuberance and technical excellence of Josh Dutton with the experience of dad Chris and Mike Leigh.
And is has to be said that the three lyricists for the evening, Lyons, Bramah and Moss could give a masterclass to any aspiring song-writer about how to put words to music.
An amazing evening – even if I did have to listen to most of it through a door.