Saturday, 21 December 2013

Glenn Jones @ Islington Mill, Salford, 15.11.13

If you want to talk all that talk about due-paying, then Cul De Sac have been experimenting since the 70s and are a kind of indie Grateful Dead because of that. Glenn Jones has done time, inside Cul De Sac and out. He sat at the feet of John Fahey and worked with him, somewhat frustratingly. Fahey also did serious time, and played Manchester before he died, in lovely red football socks, shorts and a Harold Shipman beard. The 'tunes' matched the dress connotations. Fahey's last tour was conducted by ex-psychiatric worker Paul Kelly and apparently ended in some appropriately RD Laing / Felix Guattari-style 'therapy'.

Fahey's most beautiful records had a dark undercurrent, which seduced and dragged you down into the clay mud with the sediment of a thousand years of struggle, pain and beauty. They're exhumations, what Herr Hegel described as 'sublation' – all previous epochs dragged forth in the now – this is what happened in Fahey's music. The then-recent import of eastern raga added to country blues, ragtime, jazz and all other American musics. Fahey could destroy entire civilisations with the casual opening twang of an open low e-string, before picking among its smoking ruins for bright artefacts to make the rest of the album with.

The support act, Directorsound, is essentially Nicholas Palmer, a man now signed to Domino, who presented some interesting passages of music. Palmer is on the way to something interesting, but his journey there is all over the place – formally and literally – his one man band approach didn't have an organising principle. The kind of Paris busker accordion he played had heavy connotations, in Eastern European, war-torn landscapes for instance, and that he tried to interrupt them was intriguing, but the interruptions were throwaway, none of it was properly worked out, or couched in any kind of conscious strategy: Directorsound is a few steps away yet.

Jones treads traditional water, thus this is Takoma records karaoke to an extent. He recalls such great Fahey albums as The Dance of Death and Other Plantation Favourites and Days Have Gone By, but what he does tonight is what Fahey always did: pull some really heavy histories back through the strings of a simple acoustic guitar or banjo.

Jones talks between songs engagingly, about Jack Rose of Pelt, about Meg Baird of Espers and how Bruce Springsteen irritates him. But this is not the main event. When Jones plays, he provides a map to the past, rich in detail, a necessary guide for anyone packing a rucksack, intending to move along that road, back to the future. Directorsound's Nicholas Palmer could take a lesson from what Jones does with American music, before applying it to his own practice. There is a way to play that means when you bend the strings, you bend space and time.

Words & photos: Steve Hanson.

Friday, 20 December 2013


Issue 8 of Now Then's Manchester edition hit the streets earlier this month weighing a little more than the previous seven issues - this time we've increased to 52 pages, allowing room for plenty more citizen journalism, art, comment and review.

Among the pages this time we have interviews with musicians Sam Amidon and Akkord, actor Rob Ward and this issue's featured artist Robbie Porter. Manchester Mule's investigation into the PFI schemes devised around the regeneration of Miles Platting make for interesting reading, as does Huw Wahl's rallying cry for collaboration in art, echoing the voice of the anarchist Herbert Read. As ever, there's plenty more besides, so click below for the online version.

Here are our supporters for this issue (in page order). Be independent, buy independent.

Battery Park Juice Bar.
The Eighth Day Shop & Cafe.
Proof Chorlton.
Morley Cheek's.

The Challenge Network.
Now Then Manchester Sales Position.

Alt Studio.(Special offer for all Now Then readers - FREE photo shoot! Just text 07901776892 with your name and 'NOW THEN VINTAGE' and a voucher will be sent to you.)

Ken Foster's Cycle Logic. (Special Xmas discount for Now Then readers - 15% off! See magazine advert for info.)
Kagyu Ling Buddhist Centre.

Outstanding Beers.
Marble Beers.
The Hope Inn / Fool Hardy Ales.
First Chop Brewing Arm.

Manchester Academy.

Opus Distro.

Wanted! Robin Hood @ The Lowry, 14.12.13

Who didn’t grow up watching Robin Hood movies? Well, if you did, you will love the current offering of Robin Hood directed by Amy Leach and produced by the Library Theatre Manchester. And if you didn’t, go already and watch this fantastic action-packed stage production. Schools are out. Holidays are in. If you have children, nieces or nephews they will be thrilled by the antics of the Merry Men led by Robin (Ciaran Kellgren). But don’t get me wrong, it isn’t just for children; adults will love this lively play too.

Wanted! Robin Hood gives you great admiration for the multiple talents of the actors as they take on more than one role in the play. For instance, Peter Landi plays Friar Tuck, Sir Guy of Gisborne and a soldier throughout the production. The designer (Hayley Grindle) has totally wowed us with a most impressive stage: a grand castle replica where Walter Fitzwarren (Emilio Doorgasingh) resides, and where his betrothed Marion of York (Amelia Donkor) is confined. The numerous arched doorways and windows should provide a way out for Marion, but alas, she is still trapped.

The costumes are befitting the characters: the furs and skins from rabbits and deer sported by the men, and the uniforms and spears and helmets worn by the soldiers. Marion’s beautiful dresses, stunning red overcoat and red headgear all make for a gorgeous Marion (Amelia Donkor).

The action, adventure and witty banter are appreciated by the happy audience, who want to see how the play will unfold…will the wanted Robin be caught and hung by the wicked Fitzwarren (the Sherriff of Nottingham)? Will Marion of York be forced into a marriage to the same evil Sherriff? Will Matty and Robert who we meet in the beginning ever be reunited? A must-watch family show of adventurous and action-packed frolics in the forest. Get yourselves to The Lowry before the finish date.

Words: Sadia Habib

Photos: Courtesy of Jonathan Keenan

Friday, 13 December 2013

Now Then Manchester Sales Position

We have an exciting opportunity going at Now Then magazine and you might be just the person we're looking for.

The position is a part time sales role for a bi-monthly magazine, and will involve a combination of researching new potential clients, sales administration, and face to face sales meetings with clients.

Sales and marketing experience preferred, particularly within the media industry, but more important is a strong commitment to ethical business and independent trading. For us, how we operate is just as important as what we produce so we're looking for someone with a genuine and passionate commitment to independent trade, art and thought, as well as to Manchester itself.

The role will demand self-motivation and strong organisation skills for working independently and to agreed deadlines, but also the ability to work within a team and be able to listen to, suggest and develop ideas within the team.

We are not accepting CVs for this position - please fill in this enquiry form and we'll be in touch.

Applications will be open until Friday 27th December and interviews will be held at the start of January. [NB - this has been extended from 5th December deadline.]

The successful applicant will be paid for six days per month (40 hours), with bonuses available on a commission basis. If you are selected for an interview a full job description and salary details will be emailed to you.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Review: Tehbis – Luckdaw EP (Label Groovement)

Tristan Williams, known as Tehbis, may have come a considerable distance since his debut in the honourable four walls of the Boiler Room back in May 2012. Not to mention being launched into the forecourt via the beat-maker connoisseur Kutmah, as regards to the track ‘Higher’ on the 2012 Brownswood Compilation. The boy based currently in the Big City has now spread his musical wings by demonstrating his own particular taste and eccentricity in the finest musical fusions, in this short yet intensely sweet Luckdaw EP.

Trust in tracks brimming with ambient vocals, layered with discerning drum snaps and playful samples. His sound may lack in consistency and distinct structure at times, but Tehbis makes up for it in his unmistakable ability to blend sounds and cross genres in an ambitious manner.

Words: Emma Louise Milton.

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Breathing Corpses @ Victoria Baths, 27.11.13

Laura Wade’s Breathing Corpses, the latest play produced by Fresh Loaf Productions, follows several stories all connected by one commonality: death. For some, death puts life into perspective and offers a new start. For others, it does quite the opposite.

Staged in the dimly lit basement of the labyrinthine Victoria Baths, Breathing Corpses has a non-linear structure that encourages you to ask questions. A man is found dead in a hotel room – what drove him to suicide? A body is uncovered in a lockup – who killed them, and why? Slowly the pieces are put into place but, as with life itself, you’re left to decide exactly what it all means.

One of the most important things to do when staging a play is to create an atmosphere, which Victoria Baths has in spades: the echoing rooms and cold corridors are an ideal setting for a play dealing in death. The watery soundtrack was a perfect aural accompaniment, and added to the magic reality of Wade’s text.

Normally this would be the time to single out specific actors for acclaim (or admonishment), but what struck me was the ensemble’s consistency. No one stood out, but no one was meant to stand out – this was well observed realism. Wade is a master of understated dialogue, and the cast did it justice. The same goes for the directing of Joe Mellow, which was effective, unobtrusive, and coaxed good performances from all involved.

Not your usual fringe affair, it felt like a lot of time and effort (and possibly money) had gone into this production. While this meant it lacked the seat-of-your-pants charm that makes fringe so worthwhile, it did allow for a professional text (Wade has had much critical acclaim over the last decade) to receive the professional treatment it deserved. A great play, well performed in a brilliant will be interesting to see what Fresh Loaf do next.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Photos: Emma Rider

Monday, 2 December 2013

JB Shorts 10 @ Joshua Brooks, 26.11.13

A posing Mozart, a man playing Uncle Sam and a full-of-himself thespian all on one stage, on one night, can only mean one thing: JB Shorts is back.

First off the thespian in What A Performance, featuring a bickering bunch preparing for a meaningless matinee. The directing had some nice touches and the dialogue was fun, even if the story itself was going over well-worn ground. Following in its footsteps came Big Game, which touched on some interesting ideas concerning body image and gender, but felt more like an essay on the subject rather than a conversation two people might actually have. Relationship counselling conundrum Relate also dealt with interesting issues, this time concerning sexuality. However, it felt like once the plot twist was revealed it had nowhere else to go...

...which takes us into the interval. And, to mirror the night, let me take a few moments to have an interval of my own and say a couple of words on the series itself. JB Shorts is always entertaining, but sometimes it feels like you’re seeing the same actors performing scripts by the same writers covering similar subjects. There’s always one piece about the theatre, another about a one-night stand and usually something involving therapy. JB Shorts 10 was no different, which is a shame since the supportive audience and short format make it ideal for experimentation. Anyway, back to the plays...

...after the break came Icarus Descending, whose plot concerned a possible meeting between Mozart and Beethoven. While not a bad idea in itself it didn't quite work on this occasion, perhaps because the references were a touch predictable.

Then came the last two plays, which turned out to be by far the best. Penultimate performance A Special Relationship, written by James Quinn, was a humorous take on Anglo-American relations. Featuring a well concealed reveal, the script was full of funny one-liners and managed to be political without being preachy. Mention too should go to Rob Ward and Sarah McDonald Hughes, whose deliberately stereotyped characters (American and French respectively) were perfectly balanced on the border between satire and silliness.

Following this was a welcome return for never-been-kissed couple Angela (Susan McArdle) and Andrew (Will Travis), in Blind Date 2. Last time out (Blind Date was performed at JB Shorts 9) ended in disappointment, but in the intervening months absence has made the heart grow fonder. The acting was spot on, the writing funny and caring, while the directing kept it all moving along at just the write pace and with plenty of feeling. A great end to another fun night out at JB Shorts.

Words: Andrew Anderson

Image: JB Shorts