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Monthly Archives: September 2009

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Saturday night saw the coming together of two Manchester institutions.  Punk Funkster icons ‘A Certain Ratio’  played the epitome of the intimate gig venue ‘The Band on the Wall’.  It was opening weekend at the BOTW after 4 years of darkness whilst it underwent redevelopment,with combined funds from the Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of a £4 million project.  The place has lost none of its character but has acquired 21st century cool which it effortlessly combines with the heritage that hosted 30s swing bands through to 70s punk.  Fitting enough that one of the 70s draws should be back for the unveiling.

It would be insufficient to say that ACR rolled back the years – in a sense they did but there is more to it than that.  The music really has stood the test of time.  The 2008 release ‘Mind Made Up’ fell easily into place alongside classics that were first played a quarter of a century before; and we had them all – Mickey Way, Flight and the Ratio take on Joy Division’s ‘Heart and Soul’.  Listening again this music really is still contemporary even though unlike their US prodigies ‘LCD Soundsystem’, ACR really were there.    

The rythym combination of Jeremy Kerr on Bass and Don Johnson on drums is a sight and sound to behold, but when Martin Moscrop slips onto the drum stool and Johnson straps on his bass for ‘Knife Slits Waters’ we see a band who if you cut them have the funk running all the way through.  The encore was gloriously free from surprises (Shack up and Si Firmir O Grido). It was a privilege to see ACR live again and a joy to to do so at the greatest little venue reinstalled as the beating heart of Manchester’s live music scene.

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It’s cool to slag off the Mercury awards, and the winners.  Today on the morning after the night before, the media made much of the Gomez factor and the unfulfilled promise of several of the Mercury winners. Well so effing what. Speech Debelle may not be everybody’s cup of hip hop but she won and that’s a fact.

What is truly brilliant about the Mercury Awards is that it raises the profile of a range of artists.   Speech had only sold 3000 albums before the event but now the world opens up to her music and vice versa.  My discovery of the year via Mercury was The Invisible.  The fact they didn’t win means nothing to me.  They are a class act and a playlist fixture  from now on.  It would be cheesy to big up The Mercury Awards for making The Invisible, visible.  So I won’t do that. No I won’t.

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