Tuesday, 25 December 2012

A Grey Lantern Presentation: Psychmare Before Christmas Ft. Hookworms @ Soup Kitchen, 20.12.12

There’s a certain amount of symmetry in that the Hookworms gig finishes in the early minutes of 21st December, the date that the Mayan calendar expires, for there is a degree of cataclysm in the sounds created by the band.

The epic, crushing, noises seem more than capable of destroying the solid brick walls of the Soup Kitchen and most of the Northern Quarter.

The number of pedals, keyboards and other equipment used by the Leeds based band means that there are two guitarists stood off the stage, who are almost enveloped within the large crowd. The enigmatic band only use initials of its five members when in public, so it could be any one of MB, EG, MJ, SS or JW who is stood behind the keyboards. He seems very intense. At times his face is tightly contorted, seemingly with pain, whilst at others his hands will obscure his face in the manner of a footie player just after he has missed an open goal.

The maelstrom of frustration and anger seems to flow though fingers into the amps directly onto the masses, all the while the crushingly beautiful noises flushing out any thoughts, demanding that you focus on the music.

Outside, the rain is cool and refreshing, a respite to the aural assault.

Words & photography: Ged Camera

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bon Iver @ Manchester Arena, 09.11.2012

At first glance, this intimidating venue in the middle of a hiving Manchester city centre didn’t seem like the best setup for such a usually intimate band, suiting more of the archetypal pop groups and rock and roll bands from the last generation. Instead it exceeded my initial scepticism. Half of the immeasurable extent of the Manchester Arena was cut off, effectively bringing the stage forward with it and ignoring the top mezzanine level as if it were an unwanted friend at a 15 year old’s birthday party.

Bringing things down a notch meant the whole audience – mainly made up of beardy, beer-bellied men (the type you want to run at and hug) and lost-looking couples – was guaranteed an ogle at the impressive stage of projections, draping, intricate lighting and Bon Iver themselves.

‘Perth’ saw a surprisingly loud beginning to what would be a predictably emotional gig. The self-titled Bon Iver, Bon Iver album showcased guitar and horn heavy editions of ‘Towers’, ‘Beth/Rest’ and ‘Holocene’. True to form, the For Emma, Forever Ago regulars relieved Justin Vernon and the band of some vocal duties, with the audience singing back every word of the ever-popular ‘Skinny Love’, ‘Flume’ and ‘The Wolves’. A particularly special moment was a song from the Blood Bank EP, ‘Woods’, which saw an impeccable stripped back version from Vernon, who repeatedly looped and overlaid vocals through his mic. As a result the audience fell silent.

After a screaming encore they ended very fittingly with ‘For Emma’, a soundtrack to many a broken heart and after grasping it was almost over and how quickly time had vanquished, emotion falls short and you realise you’ve probably just witnessed one the tightest, intense, thought-provoking, and beautiful bands ever assembled and that this was to be one of the last live performances of 2012.

It’s the small yet contradicting cosmic qualities of Justin and the rest of his multi-instrumental bandmates that stay with you every time they play. It never tires, the romance is captured and portrayed in such a way that it sets it aside from anything else out there, which is why this band has stood the test of time with just two albums to speak for it.

I thank you again Justin Vernon for being so accomplished and consistently humble. For falling in love, living through guilt and loss and deciding the only option was to turn all this despondency and passion into pure poetry. You have been rewarded by travelling the world and seeing these people connect so personally to everything sung and performed and you can now walk away satisfied, knowing you inspired a new generation.

Words: Emma Milton

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Now Then Shebeen Festival Mix

Our next live music outing is now only a week away. We've invited a selection electronic maestros along to Shebeen Festival, an eclectic all-dayer that ticks plenty of genre boxes across six venues, from dub reggae to folk; jazz to hip hop and blues to psychedelia.

Here, in sonic form, is what to expect on our stage, at Trof Fallowfield, in the form of a mix melded in the fires of Acrobat gadget wielder Samuel Twidale's mind:

Below is more information about all the musicians performing on the Now Then stage:

Jason Singh (AV show).
Beatboxer, vocal sculptor and sound artist.

The Age Of Glass.
Trad sounds plugged into the digital vortex, turned up to rhythmical riot.

Acrobat (AV show).
The mesmeric improvisational side-project of Sam Twidale (Sun Drums/Deep Hedonia).

From The Kites Of San Quentin.
Twisted glitch-tronica pilfered from a sci-fi techtopia.

Hip hop from the heads behind Manchester's Golden Egg Collective.

Forged Motif.
Downtempo soundscapers skilled in the subtler arts of electronic production.

Live electronica fused in the same smouldering effervescent vapours as Múm.

?? Symbolism and mystery abounds.

Remixology and sampladelica from the acclaimed university project freed into the wild.

FTKOSQ guitarist LSN’s prog-tronica solo project.

Mind On Fire DJs.
Tune selectors extraordinaire who are about to embark on their ninth year.

For more info about other stages, locations and tickets, click here.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Gideon Conn @ Kings Arms, Tuesday 2nd October 2012

Part Two of our series of ‘self-reviews’ is courtesy of Gideon Conn, who looks back at his gig at the start of October.

I don't normally write my own gig reviews but a man called Ian asked me to and I said yes. Perhaps a little hastily because I don't love writing, but hey ho. The gig in question happened a fortnight ago so I've had time to reflect. The venue was the Kings Arms in Salford, an excellent room where I had played happily before although not for several years. The turnout was low, partly due to torrential rain at 7pm and perhaps also because Man United were on ITV in Europe. John and Andrew (from Dr Butler's Hatstand Medicine Band) thought it judicious to put seats out, which was a good choice because around 45 people would have looked sparse if standing.

Heidi Browne opened the show very well. Her singing and guitar playing are pleasant and easy to listen to. She decorated the mic with felt flowers. I rarely book a support act that I haven't seen live but, as I said to Heidi, she messaged me at just the right time and I felt she would be good. I think the audience took to her.

My own performance was good, not as electric as on some of the other tour dates and I didn't think that I reached the peak of my powers. Perhaps the room was a little dark for close eye contact and the concert atmosphere a touch formal but I was happy overall and I'm confident that the guests really enjoyed their evening. John and Andrew accompanied me beautifully for the majority of the set on mandolin and banjo percussion. Andrew brushes the banjo head like a snare. Particularly enjoyable was the cover of Gil Scott-Heron's ‘Lady Day and John Coltrane', which they didn't know was in the set - we do our rehearsing on stage.

I didn't get a fee for the show, which was a slight downer, but that's my own fault for arranging a venue hire through a promoter instead going to the venue directly and asking them to book me for a show. On the upside, CDs sold fairly well so I didn't leave totally empty handed.

Words: Gideon Conn
Image: tour poster

Monday, 3 December 2012


Issue 2 of the Manchester edition of Now Then was printed and distributed last week. You can find copies far and wide in the independent traders of the Manchester area. Or to remain glued to a screen, here's the online version.

We'd like to thank all our supporters for this issue (in page order):

Battery Park Juice Bar.



The Eighth Day Shop & Cafe.

Épicerie Ludo.

Pokusevski's Deli & Cafe.

On The Corner.

Escape Bar.

The Whim Wham Cafe.

The Hillary Step.

Outstanding Beers.

Marble Beers.

Manchester Academy.

Shebeen Festival.

Wowie Zowie.

The Font, Fallowfield.

Fuel Cafe Bar.

The Deaf Institute / Gorilla / Trof NQ / Salutation / Trof Fallowfield.

The Font, NWS.

Bees Make Honey.

WR Audio.

Midi Sequencing Tuition.

Agapanthus Interiors.

We would also like to thank Sweet Tooth Cupcakery, Trove and Hickson & Black's for providing the recipes in this month's FOOD section.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

The Lovely Eggs @ Roadhouse, 29/11/12

In 1916 during the ‘year without a summer’ Lord Byron, his physician John Polidori, Percy and Mary Shelly and Claire Clairmont spent some time in a rented villa by Lake Geneva. Kept indoors by incessant rain they spent their days contorted on irresponsible amounts of laudanum telling each other ancient and fabled ghost stories. It was from these rainy days spent in earnest that inspiration seized Mary Shelly and bid her write the great gothic horror story Frankenstein.

Nearly 200 years later a band called the Lovely Eggs played a show at the Roadhouse in Manchester.

The Lovely Eggs are like your cool, boozy aunty and her stay-at-home boyfriend who gives you your first puff on a joint and plays you Sparklehorse on his record player. He wildly points out the best bits and explains that his records and the player were the only thing he managed to rescue from that bitch he was seeing before he met your aunty.

Just then your aunty comes in from the kitchen with half a bottle of Campari, an avocado and a packet of Penguin biscuits and your soul is instantly given the texture your mutilated, teenage body has been crying out for since sporadic hair growth, explosive sweat glands and giddy erections took over.

Back to Manchester and the Lovely Eggs charge through their rampant set with endearing violence leaving punk ditties in carnage, griping all over the stage. Song blood poured out of strangled melodies leaking in trembling pools off the stage and in to the soles of the front row stomping feet. The rest was mopped up by the drum mat, absorbed and recycled into the drum skins, beaten to a pulp like a pair of bruised kidneys.

Middle eights were severed and strewn from their thrashing carcasses. Shrieking vocal lines drove spikes hard through glaring eyeball observations, delivered with grinding copulation against raw, waggish nerve endings. Some literally had to stitch their ears closed to combat the infectious whim. The place was a bloody mess.

The audience was eclectic. A throwback punk, a flat cap folkie, some girl dressed like Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction throwing interpretive dance moves at the shoddily placed pillars. A man in a tracksuit, a man on a horse, some twat with a flag and a couple with no hope. They were all magnificent.

In the midst of all the chaos, the blood and guts and remnants of three albums worth of material, the severed limbs and noxious mix of muso freaks, a hideous monster was formed.

A mash of cyclic verses, crushed rhythms and social misfits held together by grating chords and dirty jagged hooks. Given life with the throbbing heart of punk and the distorted energy of tragedy and joy Frankenstein stood bewildered and grotesque, flapping wildly in delirium and adoration of his Godly revivers the Lovely Eggs.

Words: Samuel Buckley