Northern Soul

Bands & Gigs

PWEI image by Chris Payne

Review and Photo Gallery: Gigantic Vol. 4, Manchester Academy

June 12, 2017 No Comments

The fourth Gigantic Indie All-Dayer at Manchester Academy was an opportunity for indie kids of wildly differing ages to wallow in over eight hours of 80s and 90s nostalgia.

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Erasure

Review: Erasure, Albert Hall, Manchester

June 8, 2017 Comments Off on Review: Erasure, Albert Hall, Manchester

Erasure have a loyal following. I mean a really loyal following.

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Liam Gallagher, Manchester 02 The Ritz, image by Chris Payne

Photo Gallery: Liam Gallagher, 02 Ritz, Manchester

June 8, 2017 Comments Off on Photo Gallery: Liam Gallagher, 02 Ritz, Manchester

Liam Gallagher performed to a packed out O2 Ritz in Manchester at the end of May, showcasing a mix of new solo material and a selection of Oasis classics.

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Daphnes Flight

Northern Soul talks to Christine Collister from folk band Daphne’s Flight

May 19, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul talks to Christine Collister from folk band Daphne’s Flight

At around about the time of ‘the great roots rock scare’ of the 80s and early 90s, one of the most familiar faces and admired voices around the Manchester music scene was that of Helen Watson.

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The Wedding Present

Preview: GIGANTIC Indie All-Dayer, Manchester Academy

May 19, 2017 Comments Off on Preview: GIGANTIC Indie All-Dayer, Manchester Academy

Indie fans looking for a day-long dose of nostalgia are in for a treat this month when the fourth volume of the Gigantic Indie All-Dayer takes place at Manchester Academy on May 27.

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Music’s best kept secret: Northern Soul chats to Ron Sexsmith

May 13, 2017 Comments Off on Music’s best kept secret: Northern Soul chats to Ron Sexsmith

Songs and artists come into your life in all kinds of ways.

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Molly Drake Unthanks

Review: The Unthanks, RNCM, Manchester

April 21, 2017 Comments Off on Review: The Unthanks, RNCM, Manchester
One of the many fine and fascinating things about The Unthanks is how they manage to fearlessly represent the very epitome of the folk tradition yet at the same time are so extraordinarily adventurous.

Their last album Mount The Air was one of the most remarkable records of recent years, not least for its melding of Miles-esque jazz with clog dancing. In parallel to their – for want of a better description – mainstream output, they’ve also released a series of Diversions which includes an exploration of the songs of Robert Wyatt and Antony & The Johnsons, a rearrangement of the band’s their own output with a brass band, and a celebration of Songs From The Shipyards. The just-released Diversions Vol. 4 provides the basis for their new How Wild The Wind Blows tour and finds them interpreting the songs and poems of Molly Drake.

The Unthanks believe that Molly’s private collection of home recordings, only recently unearthed and made public, “contains songs extraordinary enough to rank alongside and independently of the work of her revered son, Nick Drake”. That’s a slightly contentious assertion, of course, but what’s undeniable is that Molly’s songs do have an intrinsic value of their own, not least as (although they are accomplished and fully realised pieces of work) they were presumably never designed to be exposed to an audience. Thus, they have a bittersweet fragility and innocence that can’t help but prompt comparisons with her son’s output.

FB-The-Unthanks-Diversions-Vol-4-Album-CoverFor the project (and there’s another Extras collection only available from the website or on the tour that includes two of Molly’s finest songs, Happiness and Night Is My Friend, as well as more of her poetry) they teamed up with Molly’s daughter and Nick’s sister – the celebrated actress Gabrielle Drake – and her pre-recorded performances of her mother’s poetry are at least as important to this tour as the always-stunning singing of Rachel and Becky Unthank, or the tasteful musical accompaniment of pianist and arranger Adrian McNally, the double-bass of Chris Price and the violin of Niopha Keegan, as well as tour newcomer Faye MacCalman on clarinet and tenor sax.

As with their Songs From The Shipyards tour, it’s presented as something of a multi-media experience, with Gabrielle’s readings accompanied by on-screen family pictures and a homely-looking set, decorated with the sort of chairs, flowers and standard lamps that you might well have found in the Cambridge living room where Molly’s husband Rodney recorded his wife singing. The unearthed original tape, which few in the RNCM would have already heard, I suspect – indeed the vast majority would not have heard any of the songs at all – is soon to be reissued and thus we’ll have a chance to compare the original versions with The Unthanks’ new arrangements, should we wish.

It might upset the band to hear this but I doubt I will be one of the ones doing so – the fragile magic of the songs as rendered by The Unthanks is enough to prove to me that Molly was indeed a notable talent. But would this show exist without the cult following that’s grown up around her son? Probably not, and they even included River Man, apparently the first Nick Drake song Becky ever heard right here in Manchester, as an encore. But that doesn’t mean that this is not a fascinating, meaningful and strangely moving show, well worth checking out live and definitely on record.

*** It could hardly be more different to the diligence and careful beauty of The Unthanks show by the sounds of it, but surely proving the enduring fascination for all things Nick Drake, The Lowry in Salford hosts a show on June 1 called Strange Face – Adventures With A Lost Nick Drake Recording. This recounts how an unknown version of Cello Song, one of Nick’s greatest works, was rescued by a former post boy at Island Records, who recently travelled the length and breadth of Britain with the aim of offering individuals he randomly stopped in the street, at their places of work or in their homes an exclusive opportunity to hear the recording.

By Kevin Bourke

 

For Unthanks tour details, click here

 

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The Lovely Eggs

Northern Soul chats to The Lovely Eggs about Lancaster, being parents and the punk ethos

March 21, 2017 Comments Off on Northern Soul chats to The Lovely Eggs about Lancaster, being parents and the punk ethos

On the face of it, a young family living in Lancaster doesn’t exactly scream rock ‘n’ roll.

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Mind on the Run -The Basil Kirchin Story (c) Anna Bean

Mind on the Run: The Basil Kirchin Story, Hull 2017, Capital of Culture

February 17, 2017 Comments Off on Mind on the Run: The Basil Kirchin Story, Hull 2017, Capital of Culture

Standing on Sydney Harbour at the dawn of the 1960s, Basil Kirchin experienced a tragic, life-changing epiphany.

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