Saturday, 26 May 2018

Town: On the anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing

Given the role Tony Walsh's 'This is the place' played at the vigil on 23rd May 2017, it feels very apt that HOME would commission a series of spoken word pieces to mark the anniversary of the Arena bombing. HOME worked with Monkeywood Theatre last year to, in their words: 
Commission 19 astounding Mancunian writers to write 19 tiny but titanic new pieces that explore our city and its people.  
Eve Steele was one of those people. This is her ode to the city centre. 
One year on. We won’t forget. Our city stands strong. #McrTogether

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Dott - Like a Girl (feat. Sadie Dupuis)

Tomorrow Ireland goes to the polls in a referendum on reproductive rights. The Irish band Dott have teamed up with Speedy Ortiz's Sadie Dupuis to record this fantastic anthem for the campaign to repeal the eighth amendment.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Because the people who fill the city, because the city fills the people

"Because the people who fill the city, because the city fills the people" - Everything But The Girl, Five Fathoms

Billboard display opposite Manchester Apollo, the week after the Arena bomb

Everybody has a Manchester Arena story.

If you live within the fifty mile radius of the city of Manchester, grew up in it's clubs and venues, drank in it's pubs, staggered down it's dark and rainy streets... chances are you will have been touched by the events of 22nd May 2017.

Maybe not directly, but indirectly.

Even if you didn't lose a loved one in the attack itself, chances are you will know someone who went to the Ariana Grande concert, or know someone related to someone who went to the concert. Or you have a friend who went to a gig at the Arena mere days beforehand. Or a friend or family member who works for the emergency services.

Even if this isn't the case, you will have either gotten a worker bee tattoo to raise funds for the families of those killed, or you will know someone who got a worker bee tattoo. You will have seen the murals in the hipster end of town, and the one in the Arndale. You may, if you live in Stockport, or pass through the Heatons on a regular basis, have seen the Stockport worker bee. Similarly, the worker bees on buses, We heart Manchester digital displays on buses not in service, and the Spirit of Manchester tram.

Stockport worker bee
The marks are everywhere. Subtle maybe, and not necessarily obvious to visitors, but they are there.

Today, the first anniversary of the bombing, events are taking place in Manchester  and there will be a national one minute silence at 2:30pm.

Manchester Arena itself re-opened in September 2017, with a fundraising concert that featured Noel Gallagher and Blossoms, amongst others. 

My own Arena story is confined entirely to the night I saw Florence + The Machine headline there in September 2015. It was the first, and so far only, time I'd been to the Arena and I found the size of the place somewhat surreal. It felt cavernous, enormous, and weirdly reminiscent of St Pancras train station in London if it had been mated with the Arndale. That was the actual bit of the Arena where you go in and where you can buy non food kind of food and merchandise, not the actual bit where the concerts take place.

I remember watching Florence Welch gleefully legging it off stage, down the side of the standing section, and right up the other side of the Arena, where she sang part of 'Rabbit Heart (Raise it up)'. I remember how incredibly pleased I was that she made the audience stand up in the seated bits because I  was in the seated section and was dying to stand up but no one else was doing so I didn't feel I could without blocking someone's view.

I remember, after the gig, the slowly unfolding confusion of trying to get from the Arena to Piccadilly without getting lost. Of finding myself in some cordoned off bit of the city centre where extensive Metrolink works were taking place, somewhere near St Ann's Square, and of the relief when I and a steady stream of Arena goers finally located the top end of Market Street and we realised we were on the home stretch to the 192 stop.

That is my Arena memory.

Post Arena bombing tribute, left by Canadian tourist, Manchester, July 2017

Monday, 21 May 2018

Skating Polly - Little Girl Blue and The Battle Envy (Official Video)

The album The Make It All Show is out now, and it's been riveting watching this band grow up over the past couple of years.

This introspective epic of a song is a far cry from their thrashy beginnings as very young teenagers supporting the reformed Babes In Toyland.

The band will be touring the UK in September, here are the dates:

10th September: Sebright Arms, London
11th September: Le Pub, Newport
13th September: The Thunderbolt, Bristol
14th September: Firebug, Leicester
15th September: Broadcast, Glasgow
16th September: Hare and Hounds, Birmingham
17th September: Yardbirds Rock Club, Grimsby

Monday, 14 May 2018

Friday, 11 May 2018

Northern Picture Library - Love Song For the Dead Che #1

Northern Picture Library emerged from the ashes of The Field Mice and this track dates from about 1994. Later Field Mice tracks, particularly 'Missing the Moon' revealed an interest in dance music that continued with Northern Picture Library and, as such, 'Love Song For The Dead Che #1' can be regarded as a collision between nineties twee pop and trip hop. Absolute genius.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Flinch: Skin Deep

A nice slice of mid 1990s indie. Flinch were fronted by singer/bassist Grog and were quite ubiquitous on the Peel Show, Evening Session and in the pages of the NME in the mid 1990s. They also featured on the UK festival circuit around 1994/1995 but, despite all of that, never quite made it.

'Skin Deep' was one of their strongest, and most abrasive, singles.