Date: November 10th, 2013
Venue: Retro Bar, Manchester
Support: Fade / Exile 84 / Brave The North / Altered Sky
Website: None available
Manchester’s Retro Bar is one of the best sources for locals to discover the latest underground acts, both based in Manchester and outside of the city. Tonight’s bill, for example, hosts a total of five bands, most of them from around the surrounding area, but one of which coming from as far as Glasgow, named Altered Sky.
Opening the proceedings tonight are fresh faced indie rockers, Fade (**), who are clearly rather new to the whole gigging scene. Though they’re starting to build some form of foundation with their tracks, which in places bear similarities with the likes of The Kooks, there’s still a lot of tweaks that need to be done here and there. The same can be said with their live performance, which in places lacks in confidence, but this is something that will solidify with time.
Following up, Exile 84 (****) are a far more boisterous rock ‘n’ roll act, and burst into life from the get go. Drummer Tom Miller is often jumping up from his stool behind the kit and screaming along to the band’s lyrics, and co-vocalists Andy Crowe and Abby Richella‘s voices marry perfectly. If you’re looking for a more raw The White Stripes, then Exile 84 could well be an untapped treasure.
Locals Brave The North (***) tone it down a little bit, this time bringing to us something more of an alt rock/indie rock approach with a slight pop sheen. Again, newcomers to the gigging circuit, there’s still much that BTN have to learn, but they’re certainly on a path to make themselves a popular name in Manchester, if nothing else. What’s more, with an arsenal of songs that cover topics like (in their words) Quavers and pickled onions, their humourous side along with tracks like ‘Johnny Bullshit’ makes for a great formula.
Travelling all the way down from Glasgow and also closing off their final UK tour of the year, pop-punks Altered Sky (****) are easily the most popular band on the bill and the crowd they draw reflects that completely. The front row sing back along with the likes of ‘I Know You Know’ and set closer ‘Where I Belong’, with front woman Ana Nowosielska getting the fans clapping along and jumping to their melodic hits that, with the right push, will soon be bothering radio stations, TV channels and pushing them into a constant rotation in magazines.
To finish it all off, local boys Black Daze (***) are definitely completely different stylistically to all of the other bands on the evening’s line-up. Completely void are the melodicisms and heartstring tugging hooks, enter super fast riffage and a full dosage of anger and aggression. Praise must be given to lead guitarist, Lewis Candlin, who manages to shred his way up and down the fretboard at an impressive rate. Indeed, what hinders this performance from having more teeth lies with vocalist, Ben Harrison. Though his mid-range screams hold their own, there’s little diversity. Maybe with a bit more practice and better breath control, Harrison could incorporate more high pitched screeches, guttural lows and, in turn, make Black Daze a more interesting prospect.
Written by Zach Redrup