The grass roots independent music event “Manchester Meltdown” has returned for it’s second year. Curated by German Shepherd Records co-owner Ian Moss and based at The Peer Hat the five week series gives punters the chance to sample music from bands and artists that hover below the attention span of the cognoscenti of the cities entertainment industry.
The first two weeks of the January 2019 event have delivered eight excellent performances, which have been captured on video by the ever reliable Paul Forshaw offering music lovers the opportunity to see what they have missed and perhaps tempting them to attend the remaining gigs.
All five events are opened by “house band” Four Candles, lead by event curator Ian Moss. Now in their third year of existence, and with a new album “Nettle Rash” due soon, the quartet has a full song book to pick from for their 30 minute slot but the opening set is packed with new tunes. Car troubles have the band running slightly late but they are soon up and running with “Chastity Belt” from the second album “Spiritual Rapture”. The band’s effusive brand of what can only be described as “21st century punk rock” is muscular and relentless and starts the series of gigs off with a bang. Live debutante “Animals Attack” is a waltz with choppy ska chords, which demonstrates the variety in the bands repertoire. Another new track “Fly In My Soup” is dominated by a searing guitar line from Mark Taylor , this is followed by another new one “Vikings” which feels like the mutant offspring of Van Der Graaf Generator, Kyuss, and Einsturzende Neubaten. Moss let’s rip on the national broadcaster with the cantankerous “BBC”, a vituperative attack, before the band finish with another new track the glorious “Volcano Burning Blue”.
Peer Hat mainman Nick Alexander is up next with a new looper pedal that he wants to experiment with. He delivers a series of magical songs with his excellent voice, his self-effacing stage presence drawing the audience into his unique and compelling sound world. Nick will be back with his full band Saturn Mansions on the 16th January for the third in the series of gigs.
Next up is the debut gig for Transcendental Equations featuring Ill bass player Whitney Bluzma. Blending samples of spoken world, Dik-mik like synth noises, motorik funk rhythms, and shoegaze guitar sounds they power through a series of instrumentals which deliver a hypnotic groove which gets the audience moving.
The closing act of the night is the up and coming Manc supergroup Weimar. Weimar began as a collaborative project between Manchester musicians and songwriters Aidan Cross (The Bacillus, Black Light Mutants), Johann Kloos (The Sandells, Erick), John Armstrong (The Speed of Sound) and Anthony ‘Eddy’ Edwards (The Deceased). Combining a range of influences and naming themselves Weimar after the German Weimar Republic of the 1920s in which experimental art, music and cabaret saw a boom period. Weimar’s music covers an eclectic range of influences ranging from post-punk to cabaret, chanson, torch songs and experimental rock, with lyrics born of a fascination with the murkier and seamier sides of culture and history plus the still current need for retaliation and expression in the face of oppression. Their set captured all of this and featured their new single which will be launched at The Eagle in Salford on 1st February and will be co-released by their own Marlene’s Hat label and German Shepherd. Unfortunately as things were running late Paul only captured part of the set.
Word must have spread about the event as night 2 saw an increased crowd. Once again Four Candles opened, this time with a more recognisable set with tunes from the first two albums. The mojo meter appears to have been turned up tonight with the band certainly exceeding what they did on night one in terms of delivery and intent. Kicking off with the hypnotic and dangerous “Strange Things (Are Happening)”. The title track of the first album “Killing The Image” follows, as does “Monkey See Monkey Do” from the same release. The as yet unreleased “Sex Toy” is captivating and blends post-punk repetition with searing guitar and effortless funky bass from Jon Rowlinson. A remarkable version of “Lenny Bruce” follows which echoes The Fall at their most-unforgiving, stunning! The set finishes with the always glorious “You Can’t Be What You Pretend”. One can only imagine what they will deliver next week.
As a complete contrast Emily Oldfield is up next. She delivers 30 minutes of thought provoking and sometimes harrowing spoken word which holds an attentive audience spell bound. Unlike a lot of performance poets Emily does not use the heightened delivery associated with the genre but instead delivers in her native Burnley-ese some remarkable and very personal pieces. I much prefer her style of delivery over some of the more recognised poets I have seen of late. She was, to put it, simply excellent.
The beauty of Manchester Meltdown is that is indeed a broad musical church and from Emily’s solo set we move to the manic uber-glam Industrial/Anti-Pop/Noise and electronica of St. Lucifer who drive up the wattage and blast the audience with memorable tunes including a Big Black cover. Equipment problems seek to divert the band from their endeavours but these are soon resolved and some excellent music is delivered including from their latest release “Music is Violence” on Analogue Trash Records. Their performance ethic is second to none bringing a sense of fun and style to the tired indie whitewash of the Manchester scene.
Closing night 2 is Bury’s finest band of the moment the exceptional “Adventures of Salvador”. Combining the swamp rock of The Cramps. post-punk repetition and a punk rock snarl with theremin and mellotrons, coupled with lyrics that reveal the dark underbelly of Pardonian society, they send us away into the cold night with a breathtaking performance. This must be the fifth or sixth time I have seen them live and they reached new heights. With the excellent new single “Retroman” and an uncompromising closer of the Royston Vaisey-esque “Welcome to My Village” they are in fine form. Nigel Becks bass growls like a dyspeptic bear, and Mark Berry’s monster Gretsch sound echoes Poison Ivy, Jeffrey Lee Pierce and Kid “Congo” Powers with a nod to towards Link Wray. Loop-aznavour is his usual cuddly self a snarling intense combination of Johnny Rotten, Richard O’Brien and Mark E. Smith his hand coaxing the theremin into life as the band power to a remarkable conclusion. You really need to see this band.
And that, of course, is not the end of things. There are three more nights to go, details below. You would be daft to miss the opportunity to see some of the best live music in the Manchester conurbation at the moment. Music untainted by the pre-conceptions of an industry mired in nostalgia and a predilection for safe music that people know. Challenge yourself and pop down to the Peer Hat for a listen.