UNSIGNED BANDS OF THE NORTH 2 - Gullivers, Manchester 05.02.19
PHOTO CREDITS: SHANNON LANDERS PHOTOGRAPHY
As soon as I heard that there was going to be a showcase of four of the North’s little known unsigned bands, I knew that this was something I had to get onto – stat! Venturing out into the dark and rainy Manchester streets on a cold February night isn’t the most alluring prospect, however, and as I stepped into Gullivers in the heart of the city’s Northern Quarter, it was evident that most of my fellow music lovers had unfortunately decided to stay at home with a big mug of hot chocolate instead.
The ‘Unsigned Band Of The North 2’ event, which was presented by Maunders Music Ltd, promised a display of grunge, punk and alternative bands - two hailing from Manchester and two from Liverpool. Opening the show was SKINNER’S LANE, an international trio, comprising quirky Californian Zak Langford-Do on vocals and guitar, Liverpudlian Chris Jones on bass and vocals and Norwegian drummer, Sander Valset.
Langford-Do and Valset wore almost matching Paisley shirts but Langford-Do came across as the clear ringleader – a quirky livewire who embraces his geeky leanings and looks like he’s having a blast on stage. After a false start due to a technical hitch with the DI box (I think it was just switched off), the band, who proclaim to “hate standing still”, kicked off their six-song set with new single ‘Once Again’, which is due out on 15th March.
The music was upbeat, modern garage rock, with a funky, punky twist. The threesome put on a confident riff-driven performance, illuminated by Langford-Do’s infectious energy and sudden oddball movements (often deliberately bumping into things, such as the bassist). The set closed with ‘9-4-U’, which started with a frenetic intro that ran throughout the song, culminating in a more proggy, psychedelic affair. Skinner’s Lane have promised to return to Manchester in two months time and I certainly hope the weather - and the turnout - will be better for them then.
Skinner’s Lane are:
Zak Langford-Do - Vocals/Guitar
Chris 'Demented Zebedee' Jones - Bass/Vocals
Sander Valset - Drums
Next up were BREAK LINE, an indie-pop-rock three-piece from Manchester, consisting of Shane Parkinson and Lewis Jacques sharing the songwriting, vocal and guitar duties, together with Dalton Walsh on drums. Opening song ‘Take Care’ was written by Jacques and had a feel-good, ‘60s-inspired vibe, with a steady, chugging beat.
A drumstick-spinning Walsh really shone, as his powerful, dynamic style injected the songs with a lightning bolt of energy and intensity. The biggest surprise of the, mostly, laid-back set came with an amusing cover of Bloodhound Gang’s ‘The Bad Touch’, which seamlessly morphed into Electric Six’s ‘Danger! High Voltage’. The music got a little heavier, punkier and rockier towards the end, but there were sections where one of the guitars was noticeably off-key during one of the later songs. All in all, it was a good performance with solid drumming forming the dependable backbone of the outfit.
Break Line are:
Lewis Jacques - Guitar/Vocals
Shane Parkinson - Guitar/Vocals
Dalton Walsh - Drums/Vocals
The second act from Merseyside to take to the stage was hard rock quartet RAISED BY WOLVES, headed by formidable singer Liv Johnson, who led from the front with a strong, husky vocal. The hard-hitting, grunge-fuelled set included ‘Like You Hate Me’ and ‘Alive’, taken from the band’s self-titled debut EP. As Johnson’s sultry tones soared, the anthemic riffs got heavier, resulting in early highlight ‘What Else?’.
The as yet unrecorded track ‘Cheer Up’ went down well, as did ‘What A Waste’, the second side of the band’s recently released double single, ‘What’. Johnson came out into the sparse crowd, not allowing the lack of an audience dampen her spirit, and ended on a high with the fiery stomper ‘Out Of My Head’.
Raised By Wolves are:
Liv Johnson - Vocals
Daniel Cain - Guitar
Connor Breen - Bass
Dan Potter - Drums
Manchester alt-rock trio THAT’S MY EYE completed the lineup with a set of simple, melodic songs, based on three chords. ‘Jenny Gone Gangster’ was one of the songs that stood out, due to its repetitive lyrics and the story behind it. It was written about an accomplished musician that the band knew (not called Jenny), who effectively ‘sold out’ in order to increase their potential for commercial and financial success in the music industry.
The next song, ‘Cortisol’, was written by drummer Rick Kilburn, and was a bit of a melting pot of contrasting styles, including a ska section, some heavier passages and catchy, toe-tapping choruses. The anti-gun song ‘Demi’s Gun’ preceded closer ‘New Year’s Day’, which moved an otherwise fast-paced set towards a slower rhythm and incorporated some very nice, twiddly guitar work from Neil Maunder.
That’s My Eye are:
Neil Maunder - Guitar/Vocals
Mike Etherington - Bass
Rick Kilburn - Drums/Vocals
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