Charlatans Secret gig – the App launch at Modern English, Manchester

Now there’s regularly times where I’ve found out about a music exclusive too late or I’m in the wrong area of the country. The Stone Roses come back gig at Warrington Parr Hall, I was on the direct opposite side of the country in Hull! Countless limited runs of records only available to the first 50 in store customers and nights out that seem once in a lifetime. When the stars align and one of your favourite bands have a secret gig to 50 people round the corner from where you are you know it’s gonna be a good day.

The Charlatans launched an App yesterday which transforms your phone into a home screen full of exclusive and archives with bespoke icons becoming an essential for any fan of the music AND tech. The app itself was enough to create a buzz with twitter lighting up with retweets screen shots and reviews. Then I hear by accident that the lads are in town doing their thing in one of Manchester’s finest agencies, Modern English. The App is the wizardry of Modern English bringing their previous music industry and award-winning shinanigans with the Foo Fighters, Nightmares on wax, Sony music and the lot goes on. Now they can add a bunch of Charlatans to their success wall.

Shortcut to a few conversations with the right people and A LOT of luck, I’m in and Mike from Artistic Echoes is along for the ride too.

Enter Modern English HQ and up a side door and narrow stair case (the only thing missing from this secrecy and curious fun is it being on the 13.5 floor of Fourways House where the agency are based). We get there with about 15 mins to spare, giving just enough time to grab a beer, and the paella (vegan and Tim Burgess favourite).

As the setup begins it turns out the brilliant Surdevan Creative are filming the whole thing and cutting it (Facebook) Live. These guys are the masterminds behind the visuals you see at Kendal Calling and many live events. The band obviously want this digital launch documenting well.

“Show us your Apps Lads!”

Tim and Mark take the stage with a set of acoustics Charlatans reworks which have become a pop up Charlatans staple over the years. Low on the setup needed and sounding fantastic in their own unique way. I shout up “Show is your Apps lads!” raising smiles and sniggers. Straight into the set list which entertains the agency crowd, full of fans and industry professionals and regardless of background there is an anticipation which only came about around an hour or so before for many. One of those in attendance is Alex (regular bootlegger) “Hey Alex, you recording this?” Jokes Tim “Yep”, smiles the music fanatic and points over at the microphone on the window sill. “But it’s on Facebook live mate!” Jibes the lead singer and drops straight into Different Days.

The full list:

Different days, Impossible, North Country boy, Spinning out, the Only one I know, Man needs to be told, just when you’re thinking things over.

“This is a massive singalong” Tim prompts just before ‘the only one I know’ and crowd oblige perfectly (myself included, I always think to sing the back vocals and try my own bit of harmonies 🙂 ). “Thanks a lot and … well done!” Looking pleased with what they have achieved with the secret gig “this is someone’s office/studio” laughs Tim.

There’s a short pause with Tim looking at Mark for the prompt of the next tune. “Man needs to be told” I shout and I’m a room full of people Mark and Tim have this knack of making it feel like you’re the only one there. A real intimate show. When Tim answers “yeah we can do that one!” With a nod of agreement and the version to follow is the best I’ve heard (and seen) it.

“It’s a good day”

Tim sums up everything as “It’s a good day”. A secret gig, I found a fully signed live guide at Magma, beer, rum and paella. With the best most intimate Charlatans gig yet!


Off the record – the best of the best

Through the power of spotify we’ve picked up snippets of the bands being showcased for this years Of The Record conference/festival/music industry gathering. You can read more about OTR on our previous blog to preview the event.
“Russ can you pick your favourites from the bands being showcased at the OTR event please” is the request from our head of music, Jess. It’s a tough one considering the curators include Louder than war, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Scruff of The Neck and Sound City. Each artist is picked on individual merit and when going for the chosen acts that I’ll be taking in I’m hoping they’ll be no clashes on this run down! The event is championed by Elbow’s Guy Garvey, John Robb and communities like Silent Radio, Popped Music and Get into this. It’s set to be very good indeed!.
Here’s some of the bands I’ll be checking out over the couple of days and it might serve as a steer in the right direction for you too. Have a good OTR 2017!
100 fables start the list off with a joy division influenced gritty pop tune, Wake Up. The drums are suitably tinned, the bass sounds low slung and the vocals are cheeky. Reminiscent of Powder, Salad with significantly more punch.
Brooke Bentham delivers harmonies a plenty and a truly melodic groove, heavy on the keys, and an easy to listen tempo with evocative (or is that provocative) vocals. Fantastic range on the voice and I’m interested to sample more from their set.
Byrde are channeling Garbage Shirley Manson with a good wrapping of Cardigans, another fantastic female vocal with a deep groove. Worth checking these out.
Cassia are fantastic and hail from my home town of Macclesfield. Think lofi punk and a laziness to the vocals a kin to Caleb from Kings of Leon (early days), chuck in a smattering of Vampire Weekend and if you’re up for that blend get into their set and sup the brew!
Control of the going pull on a very strong guitar sound, the jangle of Marr which is so sought after and with the technical licks of Squire, cobainesque growl on the lead and you’ve got a very full live sound I imagine.
Eliza Shaddad soft voice and dubbed out drums/bass backline offers a stoner melody that should pound right into your chest with deep tones to the voice and groove on their offering of ‘Wars’. It’ll be interesting to discover more.
FEHM channels Hooky’s bass and editors groove, vocals are haunting and set firmly in the centre of the synth heavy melodies. Another set of jangling guitar to set off the sound. Dark and mysterious. I’m interested to seeing this live.
Jakl stand out on the playlist and their self titled theme of the Jackal shows big range of vocals and quiet loud mix to pull in any music fan.
JW Ridley – gives a nearly spoken word intro with electro heavy backdrop, building into a mixed epic which is like Jarvis Cocker Pulp and more on the dark side rather than cheeky pop.
Koalas – give us an LCD Soundsystem meets Chromatics outlook of dark electro sound. Think Drive soundtrack, Wolf Alice, After Dark compilations (Italians do it better).
Layfullstop – covers the urban beat and spitting rhymes over a traditional hip hop beat. The rythmn feels more left-eye than latifa and in a very guitar based line up it’s a welcome stretch into other genres.
Low Island – give similarities to Django Django and have a brilliant dance groove to their electronic guitar based sound. If their other tracks sound like ‘the Lines’ they’ll be a bouncing floor watching them at OTR.
The Blinders – have been getting a lot of media coverage recently and their stomp into Manchester for OTR when listening to Brave New World gives similarities to Kasabian with a a likeness to the marching metronomic chant and wailing mantras. Sounding great and as a full sound they’ll be one to watch this year.
Sugarmen deliver a fantastic rolling classic melodic rock sound with tints of glam and punk sound – AC is the point of reference and has drops of cosmic synths and repeats. Their set will have a good groove and I imagine more soundtracked surprises.
River Matthews – sound like they can write a hook and deliver it with a deep west mississippi beat. They have a classic sound which is given with a full sound and powerful vocals. This will be received well live and will have the crowd bouncing.
Well, all in all a packed list of great music and it was almost impossible picking out the best of such a good bunch of new acts. Now the impossible but glorious task of squeezing them all in :). On to off the record.

Cosmo calling – Mash Guru

Cosmo Callling are new to the Macclesfield crowd and a Friday night is a tough one to crack – they come from Manchester City centre and start the night with ‘Cry baby cry’ – giving it all, they are here to make an impression rather than just pay the wage.
‘On the wire’ – “we’re on Spotify, soundcloud, YouTube, all that jazz” and that’s the sign of how music hits us. How do we connect with people? If everyone (like me) bought a CD to hear more about the music that would be, 300 £5 = £1500, a 5 piece band means £300 each and that’s a good night. Maybe Spotify is making it too easy? Maybe pushing half that amount of CDs means £150 each and you start to monetise it.

Having recently been running through the ‘Set the boy free’ autobiography of Johnny Maher (Marr, ha) I can’t help but feel that these guys are reminding me of my band at A-Levels that wanted to take on the world – let’s back them and see what happens next! The back line are giggling cause it’s working. And they are enjoying it. Keep on keeping on!

“We are from Manchester” we recorded our latest at Jake Evans, the big red, ‘On the Wire’ in Macclesfield

Cosmo Calling are: Gabriel Alexander, Thomas, Darragh, Pheobe, Harry. I think that’s everyone and in respective Order, drums, bass, guitar, vocals/synth, vocals/guitar. Any incorrections can been foregiven I’m sure!

‘Bad habit’ is full of joined up band camaraderie, and let’s face it the Smiths started with a various line-up and changed various band members over the years (I’m reading ‘set the boy free’ at the minute) and this band have a sense that they are feeling their way nicely – who knows what comes next. As long as the smiles between them continue they can’t go wrong.

“We’re SOTN new bitches” – let’s face it that’s where ‘slow readers club’ were mainly showcased and often these networks deliver great starts. And there is no escape. 

These guys have got a real grit to succeed and not a natural position to be supplied. Work hard. In the right circles. And the world is yours.

The vocals of Harry and Pheobe are complimentary similar to that of ‘the XX’ and more rocky. The girl can wail!

“Let’s do ‘Sugar’ and then let’s do the covers” says Harry, he seems to be the bridge between the crowd and the rest of the band. The reality is that’s how it happens! No one knows you and you pull them in and they get hooked and they (me) buy a cd (or a tshirt). ‘Sugar’ is a kin to a pop similar to magic numbers . Harmonies. Pop. Bounce . Fun.

“This is an old one”, Pheobe has a great voice, her and Harry work well together. Who wants to go elsewhere in Macclesfield  when you can channel real feeling and passion in a place like Mash. It’s start at Five Clouds and move to Mash about 10 and stay there for the band fun. It’s a formula that’s tried and tested so no point in breaking it.

The covers are good. To be fair they smash out a good ‚Gimme shelter‘ , with suitable sustain and ‘hips‘ echo.

Gorillaz feel good “shall we do it?” – of course you should ! Get on with it and bring the crowd with you – it’s a good version. “This our “last tune” “ Jingle jangle last tune – nice harmony vocals. Not sure who this compares too other than the guitar and rhythm… anyway I like it. They done good. (The likeness of the Cure popped up afterwards and that as taken well with Harry and Pheobe the fronters seemed good with that too)

What I loved about this was they all enjoyed Mash. That’s what it’s all about. They could all go on X factor and win (I hope that’s not even entered their heads obviously). But it’s about earning it just like when one of the crowd said “play some Metallica!” And Thomas the bassist popped out enter sandman with no hesitation. They clearly love playing together and it’s all smiles. “We’re Playing with Cassio in Manchester which is ‘sold out’ at gorilla and with King Cartel.” Sounds like they’re mixing with the right crowd in the City! Good luck.

The ‘jingle-jangle’ carry’s on on through the encore and the final tune is going more dance hop beat – these guys are great and well together and SOTN (Mark nice one) have promoted them early and I’m not sure where they are in the journey but it’s early. Maybe in degree. Working in a warehouse. A clothes shop. Who cares, they love making music and continue to do so. Cosmo Calling.

P.s. I found out at the end of the night that they have all just graduated from RCN Music centre of excellence, well done CC!

The Virginmarys – Sitting Ducks

Sometimes it’s good to follow a bands progress from the early beginnings and I’ve done that with a few well known bands from the past years, the Charlatans, Embrace, Supergrass, Oasis, Ash, Green Day, Tame Impala to name a few. Some of those names diversified and some of those have stayed a steady course, and some of course are no more (to be reformed?!).

Having a local band that have risen to the heights of touring with Slash, winning huge acclaim for their album releases and continuing to grow a loyal fan base and bang bang bang out top tunes is pretty cool to say the least. The Virginmarys have been on the gig circuit for the majority of their lives and they are still young and have a musical maturity beyond their years. Climbing from shows at Macclesfield Town FC to festival shows around the world and selling out tours to all the top venues.

I always love seeing these 12″x12″ brown card deliveries being handed over by our postie and this one is no exception. The Virginmarys have released two albums, and an early e.p., which means there is no shortage of back catalogue to get yourselves acquainted. And this week see the release of Sitting Ducks, the latest offering from the band.

I like the way bands have a personal connection with the fans and with social media being an instant connector to the listeners of the music it’s easy to do that nowadays (it’s also something that many artists do badly! But not the VMs). The Virginmarys are good at supplying new material and exclusive videos in fact for a charity acoustic gig last year which sold out in minutes they broadcast the whole thing through Facebook live. (Are we getting close to being at every gig virtually? You’re favourite sells out before you can get a ticket? Pop on your VR headset, turn the heating up in your house, shower in your clothes half way through and away you go! You could’ve been in the middle of the mosh pit the whole time?! I’m not sure yet… maybe that’s for another blog)

Sitting Ducks EP offers 4 songs and comes with a handwritten note from the band expressing their gratitude for helping them get to where they’ve got to so far. Another example of how they like to connect as closely as possible to the people who appreciate their music. Sitting Ducks, Sweet Loretta to the A Side and Through the Sky and Sleep on the B. In all the songs you have a cocktail of classic Virginmarys Rock tunes, coupled with catchy hooks and sing along vocals, as well as the building of Ally’s Vocals and Danny smashing the skins into a full power song that derserves to be turned up loud.

I’m sitting on the train as I tap this on my way to the studio in Ancoats to present the latest offering for Plastic Fantastic on MCR Live and Sitting Ducks is coming along for the ride. Seems pretty handy cause the Virginmarys played a sell out show at Jimmys in Manchester last night to launch the E.P. which sold out in 5 minutes. You can hear the Plastic Fantastic show on Sunday at 2pm along with Sitting Ducks.

Signing off this blog with their very own mantra ‘Peace, Love, Truth, Music‘. Nice one lads!

Field Manual – Someday Streets and Closer

When it comes to local music we are pretty spoilt for choice in the north west and Macclesfield is an epicentre of seismic musical waves. Whether it’s the small town mentality or whether it’s the strong musical heritage that town has, not sure really it seems that the musicians in the town are just about getting on with writing and recording top music, check out the Virginmarys, hot vestry, Jake Evans, Maisie Johnson, Charli White and the list goes on, artistic echoes have the latest and greatest list.

There’s a new kid on the block and whilst the band themselves are all accomplished musicians they have come together to deliver a sound fuller than a Bear Gryls manual for his next field trip. It’s Field Manual. They’re from Macclesfield and the surroundings and they know how to bang a tune out.

I know this album had been a long time coming as I’ve shared a few train journeys with Phil the drummer and I’ve heard about the plans as they’d evolved. Well now it’s out and it’s been introduced to my CD player it’s a fantastic huge sound from a local band. There are similarities to Christopher, Philip and Steven’s former band the Christophers (vocally mainly) and I’d be giving a big tip of the cap to Philedelphia’s The War On Drugs as well, I know Chris is a fan so hope that’s well placed, in particular on ‘Soul’. The Christopher’s didn’t have the benefit of Charles the piano and keys master as they do on this recording though. Vocally Christopher is as strong as ever and the back line of Philip and Steven are solid as always.

It was the trailer for the new single ‘Closer’ that stopped me in my tracks and that comes with the very nice addition of a B-Side from the album, ‘Sky’. As it happens ‘Sky’ is one of my favourites from the album along with ‘Walk’ which kicks off with an intro that Clapton and Bruce would’ve been Creaming about. New Order have Closer on their Pre-gig playlist before their Hollywood Bowl gig. That’s Kudos!

Click this for the full New Order playlist
New Order Playlist in Spotify
 ‘Stand Alone’ is another great tune on the album with some varied tempo and a nice full sound. Fire has a good addition of Alan ‘Fats’ Davies on saxophone too and it builds from a gentle intro to a track as full as the others on the album. Stadium rock sound, something that Springsteen, Dire Straits or the Police would compliment well or is that the other way round?! And as their Facebook page says Road-trip Americana, is good for playing loud, opening the windows and sharing with the world.

The guitar sounds excellent on many of the tracks and that’s no surprise as Chris the lead vocalist and guitarist is owner and guitar expert at Macclesfield ‘AMP Guitars‘.

Their next gig is: Leaf Festival 16th September

Anyway that’s my thoughts. Top band. Great bunch of guys. Buy the album. It might mean they make another.

Pomp and Circumstance (P&C Records) Harrogate

Travelling around the world involves a lot of sight seeing for many and taking inthe culture and I’m all for that. I’m happy as in a record shop, swapping stories, digging crates and finding new additions to my record collection. For those of you used to this hunt you’ll know that half an hour is never enough. I’ve ‘nipped into’ record shops in Munich, London, Edinburgh, Sydney it’s fun to do and often your treasure is someone else’s sale items :).

I find myself with Harrogate centre to explore and walk passed primark, H&M and various boutique shops… hey there’s even a HMV. A quick search on the internet and I find that a short walk out of Harrogate is the home to P&C records and it’s a goodun. On the way over I thought I’d best check it’s open as it’s a little out (only 10 minute walk, worth checking though).

“Hi, just checking you’re open”

“Yes we are until, 5.30 and it’s a good job you checked cause I’m going to the post office in a while. Where are you?” That’s Peter the really friendly, chatty and helpful owner of P&C. Having worked in a record shop when I was younger and a little recently to help out at Vinyl Planet, it’s a common passion and those in there to shop love music and the owners also love music. If people like people like themselves your always going to enjoy a record shop if you’re into your music.

P&C is packed full of crates, a full row of new, RSD, reissue records. There’s some top stuff in there and I’m already spending as I’m finding record after record, this is good investing. I picked out Public Service Broadcasting remix of race for space, Brian Jonestown Massacre Pish(10″ red), Doors live at the Matrix. Charlatans Trouble Understanding (Norman cook remix), Liam Gallagher Wall of Glass and Little Mix (pink vinyl for my girls). Peter has the share of RSD releases to boast about and is obviously the centre of those releases every year for the area.

“The limited version of PISH is in that rack over there.”

Peter knows the score. Of course I’m going to go for the 1000 limited red vinyl version of the EP! Cheers pal. A top little ep and one of BJM most well known songs that I remember well from their gig in Liverpool last year.

“I’ve got a story to tell you in a minute…” Peter is a really nice guy and very welcoming, you can tell he likes a good rap with the customers and exploring music. I reckon I could stay in here and chat all day. He told me stories whilst I was there, the Led Zep one, the car boot one and the general record chat. All can be saved for him to share if you pay a visit.

“Where’s your ‘pre-loved’ 😂 stuff Peter?”

“Down here is metal, there is blues, this is reggae, here’s country, that’s metal and that lot over there is ‘to be sorted'”

I loved it that he knows exactly where everything is and all the records are kept brilliantly in sleeves and in order. This is a labour of love and definitely the best possible use of space.

We went to Harrogate to have a break, spa and we had a top Thai meal and a good overnight stay at the Studley Hotel and a visit to P&C made the Saturday day time that little bit more complete.

Different days

A day when one of your all time favourite bands announces a day of take over events in your favourite part of Manchester and they’re doing a signing of the new album too. Only one thing to do. Aim to be there all day! The day the Charlatans took over Oldham Street, Manchester. That day. A Different Day. One of those … Different Days.

First stop the Manchester Mini Market to pick up a laminate for the day to see what’s happening, having a laminate instantly gives it a festival feel. I was one of the first there at 7am ready for a breakfast at Koffee Pot to set me up for the day. Why was I there at 7am? Because it was amazing weather, I’d got the train at 6.22am and it was already easily shorts, T-shirt and sandles weather. It also meant I could turn up and see what happens next. The Koffee Pot breakfast was treated with the first public playing of Different Days. The 13th studio album by the north-west’s most hard working of bands, surviving losses of band members through ill health and accident, estranged manager relationships, fashions evolving around them and a music industry struggling to survive a shift in how bands are ‘charted’ and how music is bought. I couldn’t wait for the official playback breakfast though, I’d already had my private playback on Spotify on the way into Manchester on the train.

Now with my laminate I amble up Oldham street towards Koffee Pot where I could see a crowd of (Dead Dead) good people waiting for Koffee Pot to open in half an hour. Whilst we’re waiting Tom (from Kiwi Krusha) collars me and asks if he can film me for the Charlatans video of the day. Two things here, 1, of course I’m up for it and 2, the Charlatans are just as excited about this day as the music fans. After all the love of the music is what has brought everyone together and tragically it was that same love that had brought 22 young people to Manchester just 4 days earlier to the Ariana Grande concert. I’d been in Manchester for two days in between the atrocity from that Monday night and I’d seen that Manchester had amazingly pulled together to carry on. The Charlatans also decided to carry on with the take over day and people had travelled from as far as France and Dublin to be involved (you can see Dominic on the video too, top lad).

“What are you queuing here for lads?” Emilie, a local girl who’d headed to town early to get her ‘Bee Tattoo‘ to tribute the lives lost, and celebrate (if that’s the right word) Manchester’s communities and resilience. “That’s cool, sounds like a great day” she remarked when I showed here around the happenings with the help of my laminate. “And… there’s a Charlatans track called Emilie too!”

Koffee Pot opens the shutters to the crowd awaiting breakfast and the first listen of the new album. Now those who know me will know that I’m quite happy being by myself at a gig/music event and over breakfast cause whilst it’s great being at a such an event with your mates or significant others, it’s also perfectly good appreciating the moment, the music and making new mates (there’s always someone else who wouldn’t miss a day like today regardless of whether they had a gig mate to share the day with or not). I was meeting my mate Joby at just after lunch and until then it was just socialise with the crowd, and keep him updated on WhatsApp. Cue first Different Day pal, Lee from Leeds. Sound bloke and full of many music related stories to share from both side. We talk about first gigs, favourite albums, record store day, the day ahead and the new album whilst we wait for the waitress to catch up on the house full of orders that they wouldn’t normally have so early in the morning. Of course the album was being played on the decks (Burgess being a record addict himself) and limited edition postcards were given out to start filling the bag of swag for the day. And there was lots of that to be had;

  • Different Day Mug (I grabbed one of those)
  • Postcards (I doubled up on these for Joby on his way into town later)
  • Prints – Tune Map (adapted tube map of Charlatans releases)
  • Beer mats
  • A Different Day beer from Krafty Brewery
  • Crisps
  • Coffee cups
  • Stickers
  • Walkmans Pre-loaded with a cassette copy of different days
  • Charlatans tour jacket in Oxfam owned by Mark from the Charlatans, a jacket Tim and Martin wore in iconic press shots in the 90’s
  • And even breakfast cereal and tea

If you read my blog about time travel the boardwalk charlatans gig featured in there and Lee from Leeds was at that gig. He’d bought the album on every format and was in the queue along side me as one of the first 150 to buy the album on release day from Piccadilly records. There was a guest list for a secret gig which is upcoming and as I type this the Charlatans instagram has posted a picture of Salford Lads Club, speculation has started. We’re getting notified closer to the time.

It was nearly 10am and I’d been up since before 6 I needed another coffee so I popped to Tim Peaks Coffee shop, a pop up at the African coffee shop on Oldham street. As soon as I walked in I bumped into charlatans pal number 2, Dominik from Ireland “I swam over I was so excited” now this guy is full of the day, sleaford mods T Shirt on and big lamb chop burns he’s all about the music. Next minute Video Guy Tom turns up “I’m following you about !” Jokes Tom. It seems that the Charlatans have acheived what they set out to and that’s to takeover Oldham St. everywhere you look there’s someone with a laminate round their necks. Shops are giving away postcards and memorabilia (I even got a postcard with the Tim special of chips gravy and peas from Les fish bar). I tried to blag the Different Days tea box from the coffee shop “come back at 4pm and you can have it” bearing in mind my bag is already filling up and non of the record shops are open yet. The day is being rounded off with a gig at the Lowry which starts at 4pm so I’ll let that tea box go.

Back to the Piccadilly Records queue and eventually the doors open at 10am “which Version are you going to get then?” Asks Lee. I was undecided on the LP or the 7″ boxset and cause I’m a sucker for a boxset I went for that – the album spread on 5×7″ clear vinyl and each of the 7″ has coloured versions of the album cover. I thought it be a good one to get signed and framed together at some point (when I figure out which wall in the house they can rest on).

There were some ‘special guests’ playing at 11am at the a Different Days pop up bar and the queue was building there already. We collect our records get our names on the guest list for the secret gig and head over to the Different Days pub in a disused shop called United footwear. There were already bands on and these lot had come over from Brooklyn, Pain of being pure. They look the part and sound really good, pretty lofi with pulses of energy maybe similar to Hooten Tennis Club or even Pavement.

The place is packed now with a bar in the middle serving Charlatans Hello Sunrise and Spinning Out Beer from the Taps thanks to Lancashire Brewery, a can bar at the back and a huge paella with some vintage style furniture wrapped in Charlatans prints up for sale too. On the walls are plenty of Charlatans posters and some excellent wall art from @Smashedhits, pictures made up of broken pieces of black vinyl records. They look so great – there’s one of the Charlatans Tellin’ Stories album front cover a clear favourite of mine … I get chatting to the artist Kirk and he tells me it’s Tim’s.

Whilst we were waiting for the band to come on I had look at the 7″ boxset. Nice jukebox set 🙂 the signing session is at Piccadilly after then gig and I’m thinking 4 of the sleeves signed by the band. That worked out nicely with Tim doing a bit of a personalised signing when I handed it to him and said “here’s the orange one.”

Plastic machinery kicks off the set which is Tim and Mark doing what they do best, acoustic versions of the classics – “that Tom ‘mouse’ Smith does this better than us” he’s referring to the youngster who’s getting plenty of attention and he played later at the Lowry too. ‘The only one I know’, ‘Solutions’, ‘Different Days’ fill out the set and then a perfect finale of ‘Just when you’re thinking things over’ – Tim dedicates it to the people and the place, a welcome and sobering reference to the terrible happenings earlier that week “this is for the city of Manchester” the crowd are in fantastic voice and this is one of my all time favourites. I remember this one well from the first time I saw the band live at the Manchester Apollo around 1995. Epic.

After the band finished I bumped into Picturedrome from Macclesfield getting some brilliant shots to share and then I get a message from my mate Joby saying he’s on his way, he’ll be gutted he missed that one.

As soon the band finish the place starts to empty, I stuck around and I’m glad I did cause Slow Readers Club came on next. Sounding fantastic and completely unexpected.

The signing queue was big and it was baking hot so I decided to Check Black milk – the salted caramel shake there was proper refreshing – good mix of 90’s hiphop, snoop and friends, a massive box totes amazeballs  and a space to chill and recharge my phone before the afternoon of beer and music begins. On my way back down Oldham Street to Piccadilly Records I popped into the photo exhibition by Charlotte Wellings. She kindly handed me a postcard earlier on. She’s caught some fantastic shots of musicians and has another exhibition coming up soon. One of her shots was from the Charlatans Albert Hall gig from the Modern Nature tour, it’s a great shot of the circular balcony and me and my wife were only marginally off shot.

When I got back to Piccadilly the queue for the signing had gone down considerably so I jumped in – 20 mins later I was in front of the band to get their squiggles on the record the day was all about. I had the orange 7″ to Tim and say “here’s the orange one” (a reference to the early Charlatans song Polar Bear “looking for the orange one”) – he smiled and sign it “the orange one” – Whilst I was stood there Plastic Machinery came on and Mark Collins starts nod his head like it’s the first time he’s heard it… maybe it was haha. A bunch of really down to earth guys in a band that has successful put another top record.

Enter Joby, gutted that he’s missed out on the first half of the day and as it’s about 26 degrees out side he’s gasping for a drink. We head over to United Footwear again and have a pint from Lancaster Brewery again. And a coupe of Different Days beers to take away curtesy of Krafty Brew.

Charli white was playing at stage and radio so we popped in there before heading to the Lowry. It was free pass with the Tim Peaks FM sticker on the Waxi which we completely messed up and mistimed so we got the taxi instead.

A bit of an Album review:

The setting sun, fantastic baseline and vocal melody – taking me back to some friendly – is this the one with Anton on? Cause the ending is very BJM and would be really happy with some spoken word over it.

There will be chances is my favourite after a few listens brilliant anthem of a chorus and melody! Mark Collins with vocals on this one too that makes a different dynamic for the band.

Hey sunrise – sounding in line with Burgess solo stuff at first and then building into a very train friendly groove. Train Friendly? Yes cause I pressed play on this on the way to Manchester for the Different Days takeover, as everyone who was in Manchester that day knows it was a scorcher and the 6.22 from Macclesfield left my home town with a cracker of a sunrise.

Zoe Kyoti Mash Guru Macclesfield

Thursday nights are a music treat at Mash Guru in Macclesfield and this one is no exception. There’s a brilliant singer song writer called Zoe Kyoti – also there’s Crepes upstairs. Banana and chocolate Crepe followed by some brilliant folk guitar tunes. “This ones inspired by sitting round a campfire whilst eating baked beans straight from the tin” I’m all about this music it’s proper nice especially enjoying the crepe from Chou Chou at the same time.

Click here to listen whilst you read 🙂

“This one’s by the Doors” Now I like the doors and follows a top cover of people are strange. 

“This next one’s about a break up, it’s a sad song. Or is it a good one.”

A Portishead Dummy cover is perfectly suited for the guitar sound and Zoe’s voice – sounds fantastic. I’m imagining another guitarist supporting her on this but it’s all her. “That’s beautiful” comes from the crowd and the guys right it was excellent.

She’s in a band called the Magic Beans and about to release another solo album. Remember the first rule of band Club. I’ll be after the CD.

A couple of the songs are beautifully accompanied by a foot drum pedal. I’m sure there’s a technical name for this bit of kit but she plays it really well and it gives a lovely depth to the songs. And I find out later it’s called a ‘Stomper’ nice onamatipeaic device (yes I paid attention in my England classes at school).

Another cover Nick Drakes Riverman – her voice isn’t scared of any of the notes and it’s soft to the point of being slightly hypnotic and soothing. <takes sip of good beer> Now I picked up Joni Mitchell’s Blue the other week from Vinyl Planet (a favourite album of mine) and I love her voice and if it’s the right place and reference to give Zoe’s version of Riverman sounds like Joni Mitchell is singing it. Hope she takes that as a compliment it’s meant to be.

Mash is a brilliant venue for this type of gig, whilst it’s busy, it is quiet in fact you could hear a pin drop, full of people appreciating the brilliant music and a couple of beers (and a crepe :))

My mate Karl says it sounds like a harp – “how’s she doing it?” How is she doing it?! It sounds ace! Now Karl is a great musician himself so I always think I am astonished by the technical side of music but if a musician gets lost in the magic it MUST be good.

Pink Floyd Money cover is well received by the crowd that’s increased in the bar.”I’ve seen lots of David Bowie pictures around the bar and my nickname is Dave cause Zoe rhymes with  Bowie” – this is female Seu Jorge and in English – Life on mars, acoustic cover. Life aquatic hits Macc.

A Brazilian tune with “a dozen chords in it” sounds perfect she must be native from there or at least family background. “That’s Brazilian Portuguese … with a Stockport twang” and straight into Kate Bush cover Babooshka. Really well done. On the way home my mate Simon says “not a lot of people do Kate Bush covers and no ever does them well” she nailed it!

Ok it’s safe to say that if you see Zoe Kyoti on a gig bill anywhere go and see her. She very good. Anyone Pete gets in at Mash tends to be top drawer and she definitely delivered. Glad I came out.

“Let’s play something from the 80’s… ” Dirty Cash cover with ” Great arrangement” my mate Steve says and he’s right it sounds excellent. 

“Now we can do something fun” video killed the radio star cover – full of stomper beautiful vocals and a crowd that appreciates it.

Massive attack Teardrop and the stomper is a solid heartbeat to this one – Zoe’s voice is well suited to this one. One of my favourites as well. Nice one.

Zoe has enjoyed the night and shows the appreciation to the crowd with an encore of a Brazilian tune and then a top cover of Ghost town by the Specials. A really good rendition.

Thanks to Pete and Jane at MASH for putting the gig on.

A festival overflowed into our back garden… Secretly!

Some say be careful what you wish for it might just come true! I’m a bit more positive than that 😀

Here’s what happens – you dream and dream and guess what if an opportunity comes up to make it a reality then there’s only one thing to do and that’s put your hand up and say, “yes”  

That’s exactly the story when Barnaby Festival were looking for people to give up their space for the Space themed 2016 edition. Barnaby in case you don’t know is one of the fastest growing festivals in the country and it just so happens to be in ‘my backyard’ (metaphorically speaking and now actually … read on). Every two years Macclesfield and its surroundings turns into a hive of creative and family focuses activity, from musical talents to artistic genius, local crafts to parades in the streets.


“We’re looking for people of the town to give up their personal spaces for Barnaby in 2016” said Karl Wallace festival director when I first met him. “I’m game” I volunteered with no hesitation.

I’ve always fancied having a mini festival in my back garden and here was a chance to have a team of experts help me set it up. The Barnaby West Bond Stage was born!


We had amazing luck with the weather and for the two hours that our secret garden gig was open it was a dry and sunny slot between 6-8pm. DJ3, Bleeding Hands and Charli White all performed brilliantly under cover provided for the festival, it served great as our own scaled down version of the Pyramid Shaped one that was 150 miles down the road that weekend. No wellies were needed at ours, the portaloo (aka the Tardis) wasn’t overflowing and the BYOB policy meant a pint of fosters for 9 quid was saved for elsewhere, and the entertainment was worthy of any glasto line up in our books.

At 5.45 with 15 minutes until we officially started the anticipation started to build – “Were people actually going to turn up?” We asked ourselves. And sure enough 70 people, some we knew well and others we knew better by the end of the evening were welcomed into our secret garden gig.


They were treated first to a fantastic acoustic set by Charli White, a young singer songwriter from Macclesfield who our daughters love to watch live – check out page 7 of the Macc Express this week to see the young dancers enjoying Charli’s set. She even signed a copy of her EP ‘All I Want’ for the girls and gave them a plectrum. (As we all know by now; the first rule of gig club is …? That’s right ‘Always buy the music!’)

With a short break of music (space themed of course) the festival goers were then brought up to beat with the funk fuelled grooves of DJ3, (playing in MASH as I type this whilst babysitting so my bro and lay down the bass lines). Playing old and new they were the headline act and the reason we sold out tickets so quickly. The lads have been in bands in the area for years and DJ3 got back together recently and started to record new material – it’s sounding great too, check out KRUSH.



By this time the festival feel was well at home surrounded by our space and my veg patch was still in tact too.

To close our slot was our very own Bleeding Hands, one of the rawest and individual talents of the local music scene. Comments making there way round of how great his voice is his self-written and original songs complimented by well known covers too.


Then I get called up to accompany the ‘Bleeded one’ in a cover of Bittersweet Symphony , the Verve. A fun end to a great evening and we were joined by Nick from DJ3 too.

A night of fantastic music and fun all to support the Barnaby festival was brought to a close, so everyone could walk round to Christ Church round the corner to witness a brilliant lunar rising. Thanks to all involved.

‘Til next time Barnaby. Nanu Nanu.


Photo credits to Steve Thornhill and Travelling Simon – cheers gents!

All for one – The Stone Roses

Is it the best they’ve ever done? Of course it isn’t. All they back and meaning business. It seems so. Is that more important than anything else to millions of people? Most definitely!

As a quick summary of my first thoughts after 3 listens of ‘All for one‘. It’s been buzzing through my head like the most welcome of ear worms all day. A symbolic guitar, drums and bass statement of purpose from the rythmn section of Squire, Reni and Mani and Brown has a mantra that a friend of mine said Dogtanian had nailed in the 80’s. Now in my very humble opinion Brown has done exactly what he needed to do. Make a statement, develop a great vocal hook and the rest does the work for itself. 3 mins of a return tune from The Stone Roses leaving us with baited breath of the new album?

And then a little story…


Walking through Manchester with a colleague and I hear what sounds like live music… Look to the park and there are people there… Could this be a publicity stunt? My split second excitement was short lived but the next picture was also full of similar excitement and appreciation of music, love it.

A delivery driver sits in his van, ‘All for one’ on full blast, eyes closed, head bobbing, sun shining, this worker on a (un)scheduled break, Manchester in awe of the Stone Roses’ return. I asked the guy (at the end of the track), “You like it mate.” He replies with a (Manc)heshire grin “it’s good to have ’em back innit mate?”. In his joy the importance of these four men is so important to the world of Music and especially Manchester. “It is mate… Nice one!” I leave him to his joy of the sunny Manchester day, and the new tune from Manchester’s finest and walk on round the corner. The photo attached was the first bit of graffiti I saw round the corner – Manchester (and the world of music) is once again alight at The Stone Roses ! #allforone