Friday night in Eccles, it’s warm. I’ve just left Old Trafford early after a rather poor display by Lancashire in the T20. I need cheering up. I wander up Church Street to Pacifica Cantonese, the upmarket chinese restaurant next the train station. Ed Blaney is launching his first “solo” album “Urban Nature”. Above the busy restaurant the clean chrome and marble lines of the room seem slightly incongruous as a place to launch a gritty urban rock and roll album. I grab a Tsing Tao from the bar and have a healthy chat with Jim Watts about music, progressive rock of a specific era being something we have mutual affection. There are a few familiar faces about including Terry Christian, Matt & Sue from Factory Acts, and a couple of members of Death to the Strange.
It’s been a while since I’ve caught Ed live and it’s noticeable he is more at ease with this band than on previous occasions i’ve seen him. Kicking off with album opener “High On You” the band is tight, with crisp drumming from Ric Gibbs and pulsating bass from Garry Lewis, pushing the envelope. Trigger Happy, and subsequently Fall, stomper “Rude All The Time” raises the temperature in the room. The wall behind the band is covered with TV monitors which display ambient scenes. By some strange twist of fate the monitors display an ocean scene as Ed delivers the pop stomp of “Poison Fishes”, stripped down to the four piece the album track gains a life of it’s own. Ed’s daughter Bianca joins in on vocals for the moody “Mettle Claw” which, again, improves on the album version, to my mind. Father and daughter clearly have a strong musical chemistry.
The added bonus on the night was the return of Jenny “Girl Peculiar” Shuttleworth, who has been absent from live work due to illness, on vocals for the excellent “Winner”. A highlight of the album, the song, written in a holiday retreat, has a certain resonance, implying that being the “winner” doesn’t always mean you actually gain any benefits in the long run. New tune “Loose Man” is a tale of Salford Scallies, co-written with Granada TV man Tim Scott, and promises that there is more strong material for the Blaney band for future endeavors. To close Bianca rejoins the band for a heartfelt version of the excellent “Diamond”, brimming with Salford soul and rock and roll. The band is well honed and on the button with Jim demonstrating his always memorable control of the guitar and Ed putting his heart and soul into the performance.
A highly enjoyable gig, topped off by a good chat with Ed afterwards about the Blaney project and the Salford Music Festival. Whilst the band bears his name he very much sees the as outfit as a collective. You should check out the album which I reviewed here but also you should see the band live as they build on the excellent recorded material and turn it into a great live performance experience. There is a strong future for this project.
Another beer, a chat with Matt and Susan about music and politics and then a quick walk over the M602 bridge into darkest Monton and home. I do wish there were more gigs five minutes walk away from home.