Monday, 30 January 2012

Humble Soul: 5th Birthday @ Band On The Wall, Saturday 21st January 2012

Birthdays; opportunities to meet with old friends and fondly reminisce in memories.

For Manchester independent record label Humble Soul it was no different, except that their accumulated friends happen to be some of the finest musicians that the city has offered this millennium.

You could call it eclectic, but this particular bill is more a case of folk and easy listening sandwiched between two examples of aptitude in innovation, Paddy Steer and Denis Jones. The former, a polyrhythmic percussionist who is one half of Humble Soul signee Homelife, opens, but the emphasis is with the latter – the headliner – who is joined by his now regular collaborator David Schlechtriemen (aka The Pickpocket Network).

In between is a midsection comprising the calming Cortina Deluxx and Table, who make use of the grand piano for a selection of compositions designed for the Band On The Wall jazz club in its smokier days; the lack of which may alter the modern day atmosphere but now means you can see as clearly as hear the sobriety and stillness of melody.

They’re bookended by the bands of GladEyes and Aidan Smith, with Smith leading the party game fun; his wonky pop a wealth of between-song banter (calling his brother, the lead guitarist, “Carlos Santander” after a short burst of screaming notes) and light-hearted lyrics (“I took my girl to the cinema complex”).

Smith is constantly wary of the time, indeed most are ushered through at a canter, making the pause for breath ahead of label centrepiece Denis Jones & The Pickpocket Network seem prolonged. It’s soon forgiven throughout a set illustrating the benefits of being allowed freedom of expression without limits to time or creativity, typified by the pounding sculpting of ‘Rage’ grinding the show to a halt over an hour later. With an overall mellower feel than recent displays, the pair emit a variety of progressions from scattered digital darts like a less wacky Dan Deacon to looped samples of a Moondog epigram (“machines were mice and men were lions once upon a time, but now that it’s the opposite it’s twice upon a time”), via a couple of old favourites in ‘Beginning’ and ‘Sometimes’.

A fitting end, temporarily at least, to the Humble Soul output from Manchester. I’ve been assured that the journey will continue from further afield, so hopefully there’ll be many more birthdays to follow.

Words: Ian Pennington
Photography: Declan Cahill

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