Photo credit: Trust A Fox.
Dead Dead Good Weekend, Northwich.
After last years success of CW9 with The Charlatans taking over the town you’d expect it to be difficult to emulate that success. With like minded music heads like Steve Harrison and friends getting together to start their own festival and make it a yearly thing (already confirmed for 2020!), it actually worked! Wayne Carey checked out as much as he could and caught some of the highlights with a little help in the mix.
Friday 10th May.
Photo credit: Neil Winward.
I arrive early on Friday to check out the pop up stage that has been built in one of the empty Barons Quay units (that’s another story…) and it’s been well laid out for this debut festival which is scattered around town. It actually started last night with an opening party at The Salty Dog and a DJ set from Clint Boon over at Retros. Being a lightweight in me old age I thought three nights might be pushing it. First band on Friday are a blast from the Boardwalk past The Train Set. Hailing from Crewe they were a staple on the Manc indie music scene in the 80’s on Dave Haslam and Nathan Mcgough’s label Playhard. They do a nice set of indie tunes and even throw in the their old classic She’s Gone. A nice start.
I’ve never had chance to catch The Maitlands before so nows the chance. They’re a Manc group through and through and remind me of that heady 90’s Madchester boom with a tinge of their own. And Carl has that banter like a young Jarvis Cocker. Best song in their set is Daunting From Derker which is a funked up hypnotic groovy train that totally changes key three quarters in. Interesting.
Time For Action played Northwich Plaza last year and made an impression. Dermo displays his passion for punk and still flirts with the Northside sound of things in the mix. a fast paced set of tunes as usual including the punky Time For Action, Uniform and a catchy as fuck Bone Idol. Festival growers already.
Argh Kid is just moving forward with every performance. His band are tight as ever and his stage presence is getting more menacing with his passion and gesturing. The intro as ever build into the start of debut Frank and the set is is gripping. Apparently during the blistering Reunion with it’s rumbling bass and stark lyrics “Does the shoe fit the foot that kicks her to the kerb”, the cinema complex behind the venue has five film screens close down due to his set! All ending with the great duet on Never Drink Again. Stunning and a tough act to follow.
Mark Radcliffe is up next with his electronic project Une. I can’t tell whether he’s taking the piss or being serious. It’s actually quite good though. Think Pet Shop Boys swapping heads with Orbital and watching The Mighty Boosh. They even go country techno at points and they have a large screen to the right of them just flashing nonsensical images. Why?….
Last band on are The Kar-Pets. I don’t normally do tribute bands but being as Tom Hingley from the proper Inspiral Carpets is the front man, There’s a difference. With the hits flying out like Saturn Five and She Comes In The Fall if I close my eyes I’m back at the G-Mex again in the nineties. Tom’s voice has never faltered and the backing band actually hold their own on all instruments. They do a great Dragging Me Down, Move, Find Out Why and This Is How It Feels where a few of the audience are invited on stage for a singalong. A cracking night for the opener.
Saturday 11th May.
Photo Credit: Trust A Fox.
Saturday turns out to be a mixed day as I’m in a dilemma. I’m reviewing Cabbage at The Memorial Hall, Glen Matlock and Earl Slick are playing The Salty Dog at the same time, so The Snuts are unfortunately out. We need a few more reviewers out for it next year! I get it covered and enjoy the day. I catch The C33s early on who are another Manchester band improving on the live scene with their surf rock Tarantino offerings that can be thrilling at times. There’s a little girl in the audience waving a C33s plackard in the air, sat on her dad’s shoulders enjoying every minute. Debut single Manic Depression goes down great with it’s gradual speed building to a crashing end. Brilliant.
Reclaim Vienna deserve a mention as I caught bits of their set, but my attention was elsewhere and nothing grabbed me by the balls. Not my bag, however, being local lads they seem to have a crowd following them, as the room emptied a bit when their set ended.
Which is a shame really because The Empty Page have come a long way since I last saw them at The Membranes a few years back. Every track from their debut album works well and Tame is a great set opener. Wardrobe Malfunction is powerful and Kel and Giz romp the stage together acting like stars. Jim the drumming backbone and all round comedian keeps it all together even when Giz is interfering with his playing to wind him up. Deeply Unlovable is pure a pure grunge tune with a rousing chorus reminiscent of me old mates Solar Race. When The Cloud Explodes gets the best reaction of the afternoon so far and is a great return to form with it’s fury from Kel.
I don’t really know The Weekend Recovery only from a few tunes I’ve heard, however they impress today. A similar group to Empty Page in ways. Grungy punk with attitude, but in a different style. It looks like a mini punk grunge revival is on the cards and they seem to get on well. A good set. I also get to see Narcissus for the first time today. Lots of talk going on about these at last years event and regulars in Northwich recently. They have an electronic sound with distorted guitars that recalls stuff like Puressence who were really under rated. The Window is a cracker live and Ben Guy’s vocals are unique as fuck. Almost falsetto at times which gives the band a gothic edge. Another belter Cuttin’ Through Red Tape gets the thumbs up with a distorted riff building into a bit of an anthem. A bit different from the normal these lot.
The ones I’ve been waiting for Deja Vega burst straight into the set with psych opener Mr Powder and just hit you with that noise. They just have that energy and are almost psychic the way they are tuned into each other. They power through the set with crowd favourites and Jack blows the power about 10 minutes in! Chasing flies out as usual and Eyes Of Steel has amps blowing again it’s that loud. Closing song The Test is just a lesson to new bands in every sense. Jack is wielding his axe in the air, and Tom lucks fucked on those drums, and Mike smiles knowingly on that bass he wields so well. Big things are coming!
I head over the road to the Memorial Hall and catch North Manc band Callow Youth. After landing the golden support slot they show their teenage prowess to a crowd who get them. They are another of these new generation of young bands kicking off the new indie movement and perform well. Into The Sun is gonna become one of their early classics, where new single Does It Really Matter shows the growth in these new indie upstarts. A group that are going for the jugular with the indie masses and looking good on a bigger stage.
Enter Cabbage, who land on stage wearing £1.50 shades (true story) bought from a local pound shop, the anti thesis of poseur. No rock star shit going on with these misfits as they launch into new single Torture, probably the nearest they’ll get to a proper pop song! Then comes some early live favourites such as Uber Capitalist Death Trade, Dissonance, Gibraltor Ape. It’s all there and they are still as crazy as ever. There’s a small mosh pit growing at the front with young girls falling over and the friendly security staff look wary but treat them well, even helping some of them up! I’m buzzin when they play the song that launched my website Tell Me Lies About Manchester and it feels like a tribute as they’ve not done it for fuckin ages. Still brilliant and essential to this day. Dinner Lady gets Lee going shirtless, they throw in a few new ones, then give the crowd a final blast of now anthemic Necroflat In The Palace to put the icing on the cake. Still relevant and a little bird tells me they have a new album ready in the pipeline. They have been welcomed in Northwich with open arms and rewarded us all with another blinder of a set.
Photo credits for Glen Matlock gig: Steve Hampson. (Earl Slick above)
Meanwhile, back at The Salty Dog, punk legend Glen Matlock performs with his band and Bowie guitarist Earl Slick. Here’s the review from another writer:
Glen Matlock, he wrote a large proportion of the album that defined punk rock, he played with Rich Kids, Iggy Pop and The Small Faces to name a few, to see him in a 100 capacity room is simply amazing….
First up though we have Ally Dicakty, the front man of Macclesfield’s Virginmarys, this is a band that sound huge, they often play with rock legends and they have one of the most dedicated fanbases you can imagine, when playing solo though you really get to see the talent Ally has as a songwriter, you’d be hard pushed to find a vocalist with the passion and commitment he delivers. Tonight he is stunning, the room is busy from start to finish and the crowd are treated to a raw and powerful set, there is so much conviction in these songs, you really get the feeling that he needs to get every single word out of his body, 30 minutes later the crowd enthusiastically applaud the end of his set and you get the feeling even a few of the old punks have been won over.
It’s rare to get an electric buzz, but when it happens there is something so special about it, there is almost an air of disbelief about what is to follow, not only is Glen Matlocks band great with Jim Lowe on bass and Chris Mundo on drums, but also featuring occasional guitarist Earl Slick, the man that stood alongside the likes of Bowie and Lennon.
The band crack into their set and immediately the room is with them, Glen is a warm and entertaining frontman, he chats between songs and plays a great array from his sizeable back catalogue. The crowd hang on his every word and his every strum, an hour and a quarter passes and the band leave the stage.
Sometime in a small place the call for an encore can be a little feeble, people can get a little self-conscious and hold back, leading to a somewhat lacklustre return to the stage, this is not one of those nights, the crowd are baying for an encore like a pack of hungry wolves, the band return after a few minutes to rapturous applause and Glen launches into Pretty Vacant, the crowd bounce and sing along, how do you follow that you might ask? Luckily Glen and the boys have the answer with a perfectly pitched version of All or Nothing, a sentiment echoed by the people in the room, they have given all, they are sweating and exhausted, but beaming, the band are soon back out into the pub talking with the fans and taking photographs, there are no rock star pretences and no bullshit attitudes, they obviously respect their fans and it was fantastic to witness.
Review by Harry Floatmans. (thanks mate)
A great weekend, a first time crack at a new festivals, and the dates for next year already announced. If they can do this in a few months, think about what groups they can get on the bill in a year. Exciting times ahead!!
Photo credits: Sal_GigJunkie, Neil Winward, Steve Hampson and Trust A Fox. Use of these images in any form without permission is illegal.