Well that was one helluva ride
Inner City Dwellers

Well that was one helluva ride. As I sit here from the vantage point of my Northern country retreat some 24 hours later, I’m not the only person in the industry feeling a little bombed-out, burnt-out and entirely exhilarated by the weekend’s activities. Having run on adrenaline all weekend, the crash and come down are not entirely unexpected, given that we covered miles and miles without even really noticing until it was all over.

So onto Monday night and the pace wasn’t slackening as In The City went out with a bang. Over to One Central Street early doors for two local Manchester bands, The Moods and The Nouvelles who’d put a lot of work into promoting their gigs, hence why they caught our attention out of the well over 600 artists playing. The Moods first who were a set of really nice lads, very proactive and whose exquisite guitar work was matched by a lead singer who had huge amounts of presence in spades. Having played together for 6 years and never received a write up thus far, your Clash correspondent was happy to oblige as the epic, surging and powerful tunes likes “Plastic Cherry Girl” brought on howls of appreciation from a very knowledgeable crowd.

Then The Nouvelles whose moody elegance did bring thoughts of The Roses’ “Second Coming” era to mind. A very powerful but tight rocking indie sound matched by an Irish lead singer whose freaky dancing was very Bez and Liam-esque, the five piece looked like they were having loads of fun on stage which always translates well to the atmosphere of the crowd. With shades of The Cure, Northside, Ian Brown and Iggy Pop on the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” aping “Be My Baby Doll”, The Nouvelles were a quality outfit that I’d be more than happy to see out on the circuit again. Well done lads.

A swift wander down the road to the Chicago Rock Café and we caught the end of The Sylvias, a nice country tinged four piece whose US slanted sixties soul has people around me name-checking the Mamas And The Papas, The Byrds and Leaving On A Jet Plane era Janis Joplin. We were there to check out one of the main events of the evening, a delightful Scottish band called Sergeant. Nice looking young boys with a good image, their dancey, funky, bluesy, mod styled rock put references of Supergrass and The La’s foremost in this reviewers mind. Lively and unpretentious, they displayed a confidence beyond their years with their jaunty hooks, jingly jangly guitars and twisted energetic melodies. A fierce drum section backed them up as their bouncy, vivacious tunes brought about one of the most appreciative crowd reactions I saw all weekend. Rumoured to be signing to Mercury Records, Sergeant are a band I reckon we’ll all be hearing a lot about over the coming year. Deservedly so too.

Then onto the ITC Eclectic showcases, put together by the resourceful and always charming Emily Taylor. First on the list, mainly because I shared a lift with them in the hotel and they put me onto them were the superb Inner City Dwellers who’d come all the way from London’s East End that day for the gig. One of my compadres thought they were the best band he’d seen all weekend as their hard but soulful edges on records like “Children Of The Ghetto” made artistic references to the likes of Rage Against The Machine, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, Outkast and The Streets. Powerful and in your face, they came on like some new and exciting form of punk meets hardcore meets urban meets indie and when the East End lads played up to the Manchester crowd very nicely with a “Make Some Noise For Tony Wilson”, they nearly brought the roof off the gaff. With an excellent Rastafarian guitarist, two vocalists who sparred off each other brilliantly and a banging stage presence, Inner City Dwellers are an act well worthy of your attention and a nod in this column.

Final band of the weekend now (sadly), The Nut Bros whose dark, moody indie soul has the panache of the Kaiser Chiefs matched up to a Love Is The Drug era Roxy Music. Rather like The Killers in style, with a lead singer who also doubles as a keyboardist, their tunes combine sharp, angular guitar lines with high end pithy lyrics. Nice breaks, drops and lighting tricks round off the set whilst an unexpected chorus on one of their tunes, “Look up your friends when you’re in town, You don’t know when they won’t be around” provides an emotive testament and ending to this years In The City.

And so that was that. Span round the closing do at Bar 38 where ITC survivors and the great and good all agreed how superb the event had been again this year and then back at the Midland where the ITC old school all sagely nodded together what a brilliant year it had been.

So In The City was a triumph this year and an absolute rip-roaring success. But then again, would you expect anything else from the city of Manchester?

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