Neighbourhood Festival 2018 // Manchester City Centre, Manchester

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You know when you go to your favourite restaurant and you sit there looking at the menu trying to choose what to have. Everything looks appetizing and you just can’t decide what you fancy… well trying to plan the day at the Neighbourhood festival was a little like that. Over 100 bands at 14 different Manchester city centre venues meant trying to work out who to watch and when took planning of military precision. Even then you would need to allow a little room for manoeuvre, I mean who really wants to choose dessert before you have had your starter and main?

Armed with a plan (of sorts) an abundant supply of enthusiasm and google maps we set about the day with our only real worry being would the mobile phone battery survive long enough to navigate us around a city we didn’t know very well. It did by the way (just) but thanks for asking.

The venues selected to host the event ranged from bars such as Jimmy’s and Revolution which had very much the feel of a good Saturday afternoon at the pub right up to the Albert Hall and Academy 1 with capacities of around 2500 each. We didn’t make them all but did manage 9 and every venue visited offered the same vibrant atmosphere and attacked the day with a real enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but be swept along by.

As a Scouser, paying the city of Manchester any sort of compliment leaves my face looking like I am sucking on a lemon however it was the perfect venue for such an occasion. The strong musical heritage that the city enjoys combines really well with the vibrant cosmopolitan feel of the audiences who attended all of the gigs on the day.

All ages, all styles and all comers were welcome for an occasion that truly offered something for everyone. I didn’t like every band I saw, but on the very few occasions, I found a band that wasn’t quite to my taste there was a whole army of fans and followers dancing, pogoing and screaming their own approval that really meant what I thought was irrelevant and who cares anyway.

The first part of our carefully arranged schedule took us to Jimmys to take in The Seamonsters, described by the NME as an indie glitter band from Sheffield this all-girl 6 pieces kicked off our day in energetic and glamorous style in a basement venue which was fairly well attended and enthusiastically received.

Scheduling, however, meant we could only take in half the set before a 20-minute jaunt across town to Gorilla for what was for me one of the highlights of the day. The signs were there from the moment we walked in. This was one of the larger venues of the day with a capacity of around 700 and it was pretty much full despite an early afternoon kick-off time. Get Cape Wear Cape Fly are one of those bands that feel like a well-kept secret, they have been around for years, with their first EP release being way back in 2004. However, after Sam Duckworth chose to go it alone in 2014 after 10 years as a band they have only been back in action since reforming in 2017. Everyone in attendance will be thankful he did as the near-capacity audience belted along to songs like ‘I spy’ and ‘War of the Worlds’ meaning the only disappointment of the set was that 30 minutes was nowhere near enough to enjoy what was on offer.

A dramatic change of pace and venue took us to the Yes Basement for Bradford based ‘Fling’ who, according to my research saw this 5 piece described by themselves on their Facebook page as Wonky Pop, a term new to me and I was curious to see what they offered. From the word go they left nothing out as they roared their way through a setlist with songs including Gerry Penny, Little Green Man and Banjo Billy. I am still not sure what Wonky Pop means but if I was back in the ’70s and 80’s we’d have called this punk and it was a real show-stopping performance from all concerned, especially the very Sid Vicious Esque frontman Charles McSorley. If you like it hard and fast and with no little amount of talent then these are well worth looking out for.

A rather chaotic hour followed where the plan went pretty much out of the window, not realising that the Basements sister venue, The Pink Room was upstairs in the same venue we took in Liverpool quartet Zuzu who took the venue’s theme very seriously with an all-pink ensemble that was anything but gimmicky as the rocked through a vibrant set list of emotive powerful numbers.

A quick Dash across the road to take in Glasgows own and brilliantly named Declan Welsh & The Decadent West who royally entertained us with a strong 30 minute set before we set about with the evenings offering.

Heading firstly over to the Albert Hall to take in crowd favourite Louis Berry, the cheeky chappie from down the road in Liverpool did not disappoint. Louis is becoming something of a festival favourite and despite a quiet year on the circuit as he writes and records new music he took on the role of one of the days bigger hitters with his usual charismatic charm. Opening with crowd-pleaser ‘Nicole’ he quickly had the audience dancing wildly and chants of Louis, Louis, Louis were regularly heard as he clearly enjoyed the support from the Manchester Audience. New tracks were well received with ‘Spring in the Autumn’ being particularly well-received as he gave us a taste of the new material to come next year. The whisky bottle was regularly passed around the band members as they toasted what was indeed a roaring success of a set and an opportunity to see Louis and his new music next year should definitely be taken.

A mad dash across town then followed to make the start of Clean Cut Kid at The Bread Shed. Technical problems helped us as this meant a slightly late start to proceedings and even after the first track Vitamin C had opened proceedings a further soundcheck was needed which meant an uncomfortable halt to proceedings. It is often things like this that make moments to remember and not to disappoint this gave lead Vocalist Mike Halls the opportunity to lead the crowd in a solo and not a beat was missed for the capacity crowd. This was Clean Cut Kids first gig back in 12 months and there was certainly no rustiness as they seamlessly returned to the circuit. New song Slow Progress showed the new material will be just as good as what has gone before and the mad dash to get here on time was well worth the effort.

With the evening drawing to a close we had time to head over to Night People for our last band of the day ‘Trampolene’. This small compact venue with its offset stage was the perfect intimate setting to round off what was a great day, The band were almost in the audience such was the cosiness of the venue and this made for a terrific atmosphere to witness another band whose name will be added to my own personal playlist, The Indie Rockers from Swansea wowed the small but enthusiastic crowd with songs such as Alcohol Kiss and the poetic Katamine delivered in true rock and roll style verse.Overall this was a really impressive event and gave everyone attending, myself included the opportunity to see bands who are perhaps well less known. In many cases, it won’t be that way for long.





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