Friday, 8 January 2010

Top 5 Manchester (and Salford) gigs of 2009

Now then, happy New Year and a very warm welcome to this Now Then blog from the icy climes of Manchester. I’m not intending to go over the top with listing various annual favourites (and certainly think that doing so before the year in question ends is trigger happy at best), but here is my personal selection of live musical treats that stood out at the end of the decade. A ‘Top 5…’ anything is clearly highly subjective, but with gigs is even more so. It can depend on your mood at the time and your familiarity with the music, as well as the performance(s), stage presence, venue, sound level, etc. So my list may have been different for a plethora of reasons, but here’s a stab at it, in chronological order:

Tunng with Tinariwen @ Academy 2, 20/03 (TJ Events/Humble Soul)
- Up in my top 10 gigs ever, this was the brainchild of a BBC Radio 3 experiment that brought together musicians who would never usually rub shoulders. They overcame a language barrier by jamming with each other’s songs for the successful radio collaboration and booked a tour. The result was mesmerising to watch.

Paddy Steer @ Levenshulme Bowls Club, 27/03 (Red Deer Club)
- One of the most visually appealing gigs of the year. Colourful papier mache alien insect heads toyed with electronic wackiness, supported ably by a dancing golden cardboard robot.

Denis Jones @ Fuel, Withington, 04/04 (Cloud Sounds)
- The bearded vocal looper is perhaps most at home in smaller, more intimate surrounds, and the first floor at Fuel epitomised a venue that Denis Jones has often proven to captivate with his growing repertoire of ear-grabbing invention.

Homelife @ Salford Sacred Trinity Church, 02/10 (Humble Soul)
- Homelife’s album launch was one of those feel-good gigs that could bring an inner-smile to even the most reluctant of the audience (though I’m sure nobody there was in the slightest reluctant). Trimmed to the core musicians, Paddy Steer’s polyphonic drumming and Tony Burnside’s sliding guitar riffs was something to experience first hand.

Sleepy Sun @ Retro Bar, 08/12 (Wotgodforgot/Kissing the Lipless)
- Having missed Sleepy Sun’s psychedelic charms during their previous visit to this city in July, this one was a must. Expectation requires a performance to match, and witnessing the Californians’ blissed out arrangements come to life was worth the extra wait.

Close contenders:
- Magic Arm @ Deaf Institute, 23/05 (Switchflicker)
- Paul Green @ Nexus Café, 11/06 (Tactile Affection)
- Vuk + Denis Jones + Caro Snatch @ Kings Arms, Salford, 10/12 (Paul Green)

Words: Ian Pennington

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