Sitting at the keys in the dark, he starts up. The drums, the sole accompaniment, join him. The lights don’t come on. 3 white panels at the back of the stage start to slowly omit a haze of deep pink. His silhouette is set against the bands of multi-coloured lights which follow the tempo of the music.
The song ends abruptly. The lights still don’t come on. And another song begins. The deep, morose sadness of ‘Pour Maman’ leads to a crescendo of Prince-like wails and electric guitar combination. The crowd loves it but the cries end quicker than the song started. The panels turn teal and we get a quick introduction and comment about being in the city for the first time.
“I only found out about this guy on Tuesday…” Oh. Back to the music. No time to think.
The interchanging solid strips of colour transform into moving images of graphic designs, hand drawn animation and filmed sequences. We get a better idea of what Gabriel Garzón-Montano looks like now, what with the projections moving over his face but it’s clear he’d rather let the music he’s presenting and the visuals around him take prominence.
It’s so nice to be entertained and inspired by someone that knows exactly what they’re doing. When a new artist comes along it’s not a given you will be presented with exactly that, in my experience.
The Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, influenced by his French and Colombian heritage equally, is only an EP into his career at 25. It may have only been 40 minutes long but his live show was one of the most unique and assured that I’ve seen in a long time. It could have something to do with supporting Lenny Kravitz last year and this Spin article discovers how he has grown as an artist.
Sometimes I feel like I’m part of an experiment when an artist is making their first steps into performing live or showcasing new work. It can be obvious they’re testing songs, developing their connection with their audience and building confidence in their performance skills.
Logic would say a more experienced performer would be that person/band/group. When a relatively new artist like Garzón-Montano defies that, it makes it much more satisfying.
My summing up of Theo Parrish’s show 2 Tuesdays ago will seem ancient in a world of real-time news and opinion. However in the world of people bumping into each other on the weekend and in the street to chat, I still think I’ve some valuable points to add to what’s become an interesting mini-debate for Manchester music heads.
Theo Parrish’s latest project, a 3-date tour of his first live show in 10 years, was hosted in association with Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA). RBMA is a quality seal of approval for some, especially considering the names (Moodymann, Larry Levan block party, Masters At Work, Erykah Badu) it’s been associated with in the past.
RBMA made a good choice with their latest addition to their list of modern music gods. Highly revered, experimental artist within the genre? Tick. A dedicated audience? Big, fat tick. So the show was absolutely flawless, atmospheric and soul stirring? I’m not sure. Oh…
I was shocked to hear the audience still in pre-show mode in the middle of his first song. I’m not sure whether the crowd wasn’t listening because they were being rude or because his stage presence wasn’t as captive as say, when you see him really giving it in his sets.
The producer and artist covered some soulful classics and brought a soulful and melodic edge to some of deep house and techno based cuts. Despite knowing Parrish was with a full band, including singer/songwriter/keys player Amp Fiddler and a beast of a drummer in Myele Manzana, I found it strange to hear the richer sounds coming from the stage. I’m so used to a stripped-back sound from him but, I knew what we were in for, it’s was a case of taking time to accept the fact.
‘Walking Thru The Sky’ and Soul Control’, two of my absolute favourites of his, just didn’t get me going. I’m annoyed looking back at these moments, as I should have moved towards the front. I did do later, to find the sound was much better. Finally, I could get a sense of a connection and respect the band members had for one another.
I’m not entirely sure that respect translated to the audience properly and at times it did feel more like an experimental jam session instead of a professional live performance. I would have preferred to hear more backing singers sharing the vocal responsibilities and seen less of the dancers; who by the last 4 songs were visibly tired. This was a bit of a shame as the band really did get going by then, receiving a rapturous reception for his recent release ‘Footwork.’ I feel like the dancers had their big moment with that song and I just don’t feel they were able to give it their all.
People I’ve spoke to since, all had something to say about the show. Some were unhappy, some indifferent and some loved it. Regardless if they were bored, disappointed or overjoyed, I have to say that the majority reaction was of happiness and pride; particularly as a well-loved member of the deep house community just gave his all for a performance that many critics couldn’t even imagine to have a go at.
Overall, there were sections and areas to be worked at and revised but I think that’s something all performers go through. I believe that with a little polish of the raw talent Parrish possesses will go a long way for his future shows.
So this sounds a bit good.
The Detroit-based techno, soul, jazz and house legend is taking to The Ritz stage for a rare showcase of Sound Signature label classics and recent tracks, with a full live band.
Parrish, on beats and keys, is to be joined by Amp Fiddler (keys), Akwasi Mensah (bass), Duminie DePorres (electric guitar) and Myele Manzanza (drums).
Werkha is headlining at Mind on Fire meets Tru Thoughts at Band On The Wall tonight (17/04). The Mancunian-based producer is joined by Tru Thoughts label mate Harleighblu for a live set plus there will be DJ sets from musical allrounder Matthew Halsall and Mind On Fire/Tru Thoughts DJs.
Check out Werkha’s production, ‘Lapwing’ below. I’ve only just heard this. I’m so late to this party, it’s obvious I was busy being rubbish elsewhere.
Band On The Wall, 25 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ, 9pm to 2am, £6 early bird, £8 advance, bandonthewall.org
Any flyer that has Donna Summer on, well, it’s a deal sealer for me. The Uptown crew will be treating dancers to tracks from the likes of Michael Jackson, Chic, Prince, Cameo and Earth Wind & Fire – as well as Miss Summer, of course – for a Good Friday night filled with Disco, Boogie and 80s.
The Deaf Institute, 135 Grosvenor Street, Manchester M1 7HE, 10pm to 3am, £3 adv, £5 doors, tickets available from thedeafinstitute.seetickets.
Anyone who’s firmly in the ‘old Sankeys was the best’ club, the Soap Years is perfect. Taking place this Saturday (19/04) It’s also free entry until 12 midnight. Register for your free ticket at skiddle.com to see Greg Vickers, Krysko, Kindergarten among the list of DJs who got the club jumping when Sankeys Soap was the dark fortress where everyone seemed to go out of their way to visit whether they lived in Manchester or not.
Sankeys, Radium Street, Manchester, M4 6AY, 10.30pm to 5am, free until midnight, final entrance at 1, sankeys. info
2013 was a quiet year for me considering all of the events, gigs and parties I’ve been to in the past. Factors such as money and, yes, lack of enthusiasm played a part in a lack of activity on Gone Out.
Excuses over; it’s a fitting time for a fresh start. The recent closures of Jabez Clegg, which hosted much-loved comedy night XS Malarkey, and The Black Lion in Salford, plus changes in management at the Lass O’Gowrie have all been sad news for the Manchester arts and culture scene. It’s reminded me how Gone Out can and should play a part in promoting the good news.
I have a busy few months planned and I’m genuinely excited. I’ve put together a short preview of what I’ll be up to in January. I hope you’ll be as interested as I am.
Season Launch Preview: Oldham Coliseum, 13/01
I always unexpectedly end up at Oldham Coliseum (I’m not sure why I’m shocked about this because I’m from Oldham). For example, I was woken up by a text from my dad on New Years Eve morning, saying we were off to see the Jack & The Beanstalk pantomime that day. The Fairy was my favourite character. Anyway, the theatre is opening its doors for a free preview evening, with complimentary food and drink too. 2014 shows include Toby Hadoke, The Marriage of Figaro, Kate Rusby and Stuart Maconie.
Free, 7.30, 13/01/2014, Oldham Coliseum, Fairbottom Street, Oldham OL1 3SW, coliseum.org.uk
Trevor Noah: City Varities Music Hall (Leeds), 20/01
I’m very lucky to have secured tickets for ‘Trevor Noah: The Racist’ tour. I’ll be popping over to the City Varieties Music Hall in Leeds (now sold out) to watch because when I bought the tickets in November, Noah’s 2 performances at The Lowry were sold out. I’m on the hype train, big time, after seeing him on the BBC’s ‘Live At The Apollo’ and can’t wait to see him live. If you’re feeling the same, it’s worth an attempt to pick up seats at dates where tickets are still on sale.
Dwele: Band On The Wall, 23/01
Dwele’s music speaks for itself. He’s performing his first LP, ‘Subject’ – one of my favourite albums – in its entirety plus further favourites from throughout his career. I hope he performs this.
£20 (plus booking fee), Doors 7.30, 23/01/2014, Band On The Wall, 25 Swan Street, Manchester M4 5JZ, bandonthewall.org
A night dedicated to hip-hop history sounds super interesting. Students from The Manchester College have put together an evening of break dancers, DJs and graffiti artists. They will also be joined by performers from my favourite Mancunian improvisational night ‘Freestyle Fictionary’ plus M T Ultra and the interestingly named X-Men B Team, among others.
£5.00, Doors 7.30, 27/01/2014, Band On The Wall, 25 Swan Street,Manchester M4 5JZ,bandonthewall.org
There isn’t a better pictorial representation of the Sunburst Band than what’s on the flyer above. I can safely say that the shadows and darkness created by the cavernous, arched surroundings of Cargo, London, may as well have been butterflies and flowers floating around on a sunny day when I saw them take to the stage there, several years ago.
The polished soul, disco and funk tracks produced by Joey Negro are heady, dizzy and beautifully performed by the 7-piece group, headed up by Pete Simpson of Elektrons and ex-Raw Stylus member Donna Gardier. They’ll be celebrating the release of their latest album, ‘The Secret Life Of Us’, so you’re looking for a grin or 2, I strongly suggest you join them. Plus Andrea Trout will be continuing the party with a funk and soul set after the show.
£15 adv, 8pm – late, Band On The Wall, Swan Street, Manchester, M4 5JZ
Porter’s performance at Southport Weekender earlier on this month was excellent. So much so, I’m excited about watching the Grammy-nominated vocalist and songwriter again at Band On The Wall on the second of his two dates there in June.
I never considered myself a massive jazz fan but after watching Porter bring a discerning crowd of soulful music lovers to tears with his beautiful voice and more than talented band at the weekender, I’m currently educating myself about the genre that famously shuns the boxes people try to place it in.
Go. You will feel better – and musically wiser – for it.
For more information about Gregory Porter’s live shows in Manchester, go to the Band On The Wall website.
Band On The Wall, 25 Swan Street, The Northern Quarter, Manchester, M4 5JZ, £16.50 adv, £14.50 concs, Doors 7pm (Mon 11/06), 7.30 (Tue 12/06)
The latest event programme for award-winning Manchester venue Band On The Wall has caught my attention. In fact, it’s worthy of the attention of any fan of soul, reggae, folk, flamenco, drum’n’bass, house, afrobeat, blues and hip hop. There’s more genres to mention but I could be here all night.
Anyway, I’ve picked three nights to preview here. For those who want to find out more about the other 75 – yes, 75 – shows, performances and events taking place up until the end of April, check out Band On The Wall website.
RagTag ft. the Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra, Phil Asher and Irfan Rainy
An exclusive, tasteful and vibe-filled night reminiscent of what I imagine a 1970s New York loft party to have been like. Everyone dances too. RagTag moves from Kraak gallery to the larger but no less exciting surroundings of BOTW. It’s perfect for the 9-piece Leeds based band with the most amazing name, whose funk, jazz and Afrobeat tunes have featured on BBC6 Music and filled venues like Plan B in London and The Wardrobe in Leeds. Alongside Restless Soul’s Phil Asher and RagTag’s Irfan Rainy, now it’s Ariya Astrobeat Arkestra’s turn to keep the RagTag dancers happy.
Friday 3rd of February, 9pm, £8
The Pharcyde 20th Anniversary of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
I was 7 years old when The Pharcyde’s debut album was released but I was lucky enough to get into their music several years later. The humour, intelligence and jazzy beats of Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde is, as far as I’m concerned, is why it went Gold in the US album charts and it’s why people liked them. They still do. Well I do. Really looking forward to this one.
Tuesday 6th and Wednesday 7th of March, 7.30pm both nights, £20
EDIT: This event has disappeared from the Band On The Wall website but there’s plenty of others going on in March, including free reggae rave, Night Of The Living Dread on Saturday 17th of March and Mr Scruff’s Keep It Unreal on Saturday 3rd of March.
Avery Sunshine plus support from Thabo & The Real Deal
This lady has a voice and a sense of fun that I’m dying to witness live. Watch this performance of ‘Ugly Part Of Me’ to find out exactly what I mean. Extremely good.
Huddersfield soul band Thabo & The Real Deal will be supporting and deservedly so. That voice…
Friday 9th March, £15