Independents Day

When I find that the state of the music industry is causing me grief once again, I can look back to 8th April 2018 when my faith in grassroots music was yet again rekindled by John Donaldson and his band of travelling musicians.

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A short tour involving the aforementioned John (as JD Meatyard), Tamsin A (of Mr Heart, Ill and Liines), Kin, Mankes and my co-conspirator in all matters German Shepherd, Ian “Moet” Moss had already touched Blackburn, Darwen and Sheffield before descending on Manchester. The city is still buzzing from the previous days’ derby match. The train from Eccles to Piccadilly takes me through the Ordsall Chord for the first time. The number of very high tower blocks along the route gives me the strong impression that Manchester aspires to be Manhattan. I do wonder whether sufficient planning has been developed to ensure that the infrastructure can cope with so much humanity in such a small area.

The walk from Piccadilly involves a complex dance around scurrying commuters, the number of people “living” on the street feels like it is inexorably growing, and they are all so much younger. The contradiction/disconnect between the expansive high-value housing market seen from the train and destitution on the city streets is chastening. It seems ridiculous that in a country with an economy as strong as ours that such things have occurred and are not being dealt with. I raise these somewhat political points to set a context for JD Meatyards’ set later in the day which covers them more effectively than I can.

Step back several years to the first Independents Tour at the now-defunct Crescent Pub (another victim of an uncontrolled housing/commercial market) where performances from Hamsters, Tamsin, Cannonball Statman, and JD Meatyard led to the release of three albums worth of excellent live music and set in course a series of artistically perfect relationships. A year later at the Salford Music Festival, JD Meatyard plays to a packed room at The Eagle Inn and wins over a boisterous crowd.  Up to date and this time around we are at The Peer Hat for a late afternoon/early evening of memorable music.

Huge thanks need to go to Paul Forshaw for diligently capturing this for posterity.

Tamsin begins proceedings following a short introduction from Mr Moss in his spoken word persona.  Her music has moved on leaps and bounds since I saw her last. It’s a trend for the afternoon that she and former bandmate in Mr Heart, Kin, use looping devices to a stunning effect. At times she can mirror the fractured fragility of Kristin Hersh at her best, and other moments there is a full-on wall of sound with layered guitars and vocals which can keep pace with any full-on punk band you would care to mention. The songs are stronger, the arrangements more complex, and the delivery the best I have seen from her. When she isn’t fulfilling her Ill or Liines duties she should find time to get this material recorded. Words are not enough to describe it so fortunately, we have this capture.

A short break for another glass of alcohol-free lager and then it’s time for Kin. It’s seven years since I last saw her do an album launch at the Castle before jetting off to Holland for another life, and another band, which has now dissolved. Time and distance have not diluted her amazing talent. She and  Moet kick things off with an improvisation around “The Wilsons”, a song that was supposed be done by Kill Pretty, was rescued by myself and Ian (in our IM-SM period), and also memorably was also given the Loop-Azanvour treatment at the aforementioned Castle last year. It’s one of Ian’s finest lyrics and this spontaneous version is remarkable. What follows is a triumph of technology, musicianship, and vocalese which sees Kin expanding beyond her influences into her own musical territory. Her voice is stronger than ever. Her command of a battery of pedals allows her to create percussion, orchestral guitar layers, and a truly dynamic performance. Again words do not do enough justice for a memorable set of cutting-edge music,  see for yourself.

Third on the bill are the remarkable Mankes. They are from Holland and comprise Selma Peelen, Johan Visschers and Peter Kahmann. For a three-piece, they make a huge noise. Acoustic and electric guitars and keyboards are combined to create huge cinematic statements. Selma’s voice soars incandescently over droning hypnotic rhythms, the tunes are great and memorable. Sometimes it is stripped back to just acoustic guitar and percussion to offer an impressive variety of impressive content. I buy the album from the merch table, and you will be hearing it on future editions of Aural Delights. Pending that bask in the sumptuous and organic sounds of a remarkable band.

And finally the remarkable JD Meatyard, Moet kicks things off with a great reading of “The Elephant’s Graveyard” (one of my favourite pieces that we have done together) and an acerbic “Freemasons” before a rambunctious set from the trio. Tamsin joins on guitar for an excellent collection of John’s best tunes including a breathless “Ubu@Erics”, an acerbic “St Peter at The Gates”,and the call to arms of the marvellous “Jesse James”. John has the ability to mix rich polemic rants, with beautiful heartfelt ballads, he can make you joyful, angry and tearful, he tugs at your heart with his words. He plays new songs from a forthcoming album which promised for later in the year. The Teenage Propshaft makes his inevitable and customary appearance. Matters conclude with a massive reading of “Palestine Song” which is clearly current. Members of Mankes join for a huge wall of sound conclusion. An encore of “Lies, Lies and Government” is unfortunately not captured visually, but an aural version remains for posterity.

Lets do it again some time.

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