...comes at you from everywhere
Twisted Wheel

Well, we’re almost at the halfway point of In The City and it’s a whirlwind. It literally comes at you from everywhere, right in your face, a completely full on centre of Manchester experience. In fact, the compactness of the city centre is a huge advantage as one wanders in and out of gig, venue, soundcheck, showcase and the like.

Okay, so since yesterday, after filing copy we went to the Green Room for a couple of acoustic acts. The elegant, elegiac soul of Nomad Jones being first up. With great presence and good vocal range, our Nomad captured the concentration and attention of the crowd which is always the prime test for any acoustic solo performer. Deep, rich and epic with nice lyrical touches and flourishes and a very personable demeanour, hopefully he’ll do very well.

Following on from Nomad Jones was the superb Kev Fox, a Middlesbrough lad who’s been jobbing round the pub circuit for the last twelve months or so. Usually I’m not over keen on acoustic acts but despite his spiky haired, Ricky Wilson type image, he’s a raw, emotive performer who has some killer tunes. With the strength of somebody like Damien Rice, playing over loops, delay and reverb, Kev’s act is immensely powerful and soulful putting references of The Verve and early U2 in mind. Haunting and brilliant, I truly can’t recommend him enough.

Then over to Dry which was absolutely rammed for the second night running to catch Carlis Star who are one of Manchester most talked about bands. Think a cross of Radiohead and Husker Du with a female vocalist who wouldn’t look out of place in the Pipettes. Trading off a euphoric indie sound with three guitarists and vocalists, they’re a bundle of fun and joy creating a wall of sound which is both accessible and quality. Most impressive and likely to be a band who come out of this In The City very well.

Later on at Dry, with the highly rated Twisted Wheel taking to the stage, there’s stage diving and crowd action going on which puts one in mind of early Stone Roses and Mondays’ Manc gigs. Definitely down with the kids and one of the hot names in Manchester at the moment, Twisted Wheels wiry, fiery energy and modish influences do mark them out as one of the hip bands to watch this weekend. Old pals of mine The Deadbeats follow up closing Dry’s second night of with their individualistic take on Americana and country soul. A very interesting and effective band, The Deadbeats have certainly raised their profile over the last few months and with an album upcoming seem to be going from strength to strength.

On the way back to the hotel, we nip into Night & Day who are always very kind, charming and hospitable (it was the Manchester venue which got mentioned in the last series of Lost). Catching the headliners Das Pop who were superb, the lead singer being a cross between Bernard Sumner and David Bowie. Really rousing, air punching pop rock delivered with style and humour, another ace discovery of the weekend.

Back at the hotel, the party downstairs in honour of Tony (Wilson) is in full swing and we chat with assorted Manchester characters and legends before finally retiring in the wee small hours.

I can’t believe that we’re pretty much already at the halfway point. It’s terrible to think that I’ve only got two more days of these shenanigans left. Not that I’m expecting any sympathy of course.

Still forward and onwards, catch up soon.

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