Wednesday, 22 May 2013

NOISEstock feat. Sam Duckworth @ People's History Museum 18.05.13

Surprises can be nice, such as finding an unlikely setting for a gig that works beyond expectation, and tonight’s events are such an occasion. Sam Duckworth is providing a contribution to the Noisestock Festival, an initiative that’s celebrating the art of protest. The People’s History Museum in Manchester is as significant a location as any, with the site of the Peterloo Massacre being not far away. There’s no massacre tonight, everything being conducted in a civil yet relaxed manner, even allowing alcohol to be purchased. The brick lined room is laden with all manner of items from the current exhibition entitled ‘The Art of Protest’, including a sign informing us that ‘The Plebs Are Coming’. Mind you, with notable contributors to the NOISEstock festival including Billy Bragg and Mark Thomas, I’m on the side of the plebs.

To emphasise the informality of the event, chairs are missing and the relaxed atmosphere leads to a mixture of people sitting in small groups whilst others stand or lean against the walls. The performance featured songs from his Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly. era, supplemented with other, later musical musings.

At times Duckworth supported other artists on the line up such as Josiah Mortimer and Mushana, a female vocalist from London.

Between songs, Duckworth outlines his personal political views. Coming from Southend via Burma, it’s pleasing to note that Duckworth doesn’t just ask the standard, “How’s Manchester tonight?” question, but is aware of local issues. He displays his pleasure that the last elected BNP Councillor has gone, losing his seat from the nearby area of Oldham.

The standout moments are when he is accompanied by the violinist, Tristan Parsons. The tall, open spaces of the venue lend themselves well to allowing the mixture of guitars, violins and voices being crisply delivered. Each song is received in silence and rewarded with warm applause.

When he recites “Tired of the sound? / Don’t let it get you get you down” from his GCWCF repertoire – ‘Once More With Feeling’ – the consensus is that the crowd isn’t and, for this evening, it hasn’t.

Words & photography: Ged Camera.

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