Saturday, 9 November 2013

Un-Convention @ Manchester School of Art, 12.10.13

Free CDs. Free live music. Free discussions. What’s not to like about ‘free’? Once again the Un-Convention event has returned to Manchester and in their typical fashion of trying to keep things fresh it took place at the recently constructed, airy and naturally lit Manchester School of Art.

The events were free entry (via pre-booking) and attracted healthily sized crowds to hear three discussions, which were focused around Manchester and the North West. One reflected on the role Ringway (aka Manchester) Airport played in helping to set Manchester up as the next preferred social city outside of London, while another covered the essential social networking required to survive and flourish, exemplified by the Murkage Cartel.

With well-respected figures from the Manchester music environment such as the promoter Jay Taylor, Dave ‘Murkage’ who set up the Murkage club night events, City Life editor Luke Bainbridge, Mike Burgess (HeavyFeet) and band member Rick Boardman (Delphic), there was enough diversity and knowledge present to keep the audience entertained.

The pool of experience was broadened even further with the introduction of Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan who was involved with the development of graphene.

Never an event to talk down to its audience, crowd members included people involved with the burgeoning Antwerp Mansion community and young musicians seeking some crumbs of advice as they take their first tentative steps into a new career.

The music comprised a CD created and recorded on the day from artists including Walk, JP Cooper, Kirsty Almeida and Jo Dudderidge, who each contributed one or two tracks. When Dudderidge finished at about 5pm, the organisers’ promise was that the CD would be available with six songs by 6pm. And it was. Speed didn’t breed blandness though as each CD cover was individually crafted on the day – some by students at the School of Art, others by attendees.

It’s perhaps a pity that time pressures prevent any inclusion of music from the closing band, Hope and Social, who played a storming set. With a bit more time than the previous acts, they start with a stylish swagger and fulsome sound, quickly converting the discussion hall into a dancing venue with people getting up and jiving in the alcoves.

Simon Wainwright is an engaging frontman, chatting easily with the crowd between numbers as the musicians rotate instruments and positions. He makes inevitable comparisons between their native Leeds followers and those present: “If this was in Leeds, you’d have smuggled some beer in”.

It’s an onslaught of bright passionate music that may have been free for the audience, but is definitely valuable.

Words & photos: Ged Camera.

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