As the January blues have finally lifted, Getintothis’ Mark Rowley chooses his picks of who to see in Manchester this February.
Now that the long month of wet, dry and windy January is now behind us (along with fad diets and futile gym membership enrolments – do people still actually do this?), it’s now time to look ahead and enjoy what 2018 has in store for us.
With major festivals such as Green Man, Pimavera Sound and Manchester’s very own Parklife announcing stellar lineups and some of our favourite acts disclosing their plans and dates for the year, the not-so rainy city (according to the Met Office, at least) has a fair bit going down on the gig front.
Here are suggestions of some of the best stuff to go watch this month.
Zara McFarlane, Manchester Band On The Wall, February 8
Promoting her latest album Arise (on Brownswood Recordings) and having recently performed on Later With Jools, British singer songwriter, Zara McFarlane is an artist in the truest sense of the word.
Winner of a MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act (in 2014), McFarlane’s music is an exploration of the influences, such as 1950s jazz singers and 1970s roots reggae, that immersed her East London upbringing.
Fresh from a stint as singer for The Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Anthony & Cleopatra (where she collaborated with Laura Mvula), McFarlane takes her beautiful voice and heady tones on a grand tour of Europe. Manchester Band On The Wall is very privileged to showcase the talents of this exceptional performer.
HMLTD, Salford The White Hotel, February 14
Six-piece avant-garde guitar band, HMLTD rolls into Salford’s White Hotel to entertain their whacked out disciples, with its inimitable brand of wild and chaotic party music.
Blending the musics of junk punk, ham glam and sonic electronic, HMLTD, formerly Happy Meal Ltd (before Ronald’s gang filed a lawsuit), are the very riotous, righteous, real deal.
This is a show for everyone to don some blue-black lippy, slap on the dark eye shadow, and join with the fun.
Déjà Vega, Juju, Hey Bulldog, Manchester The Peer Hat. February 17
The Peer Hat pub in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is the venue for this trio of unsigned bands. Whilst Hey Bulldog are not a The Beatles tribute band and Juju are not the current K-Pop sensation, they will undoubtedly be worth checking out, as are Winsford’s Déjà Vega.
Vega’s motorik beat, distorted psych guitar and raucous vocal onslaught is a noise to behold. Citing influences as diverse as Queens Of The Stone Age and Krautrock, and with an album’s worth of material already down, this band really are ready to move on to the next level. Go see for yourself!
Kelela, Manchester Academy 2, February 18
With her debut album, the critically-acclaimed Take Me Apart released in October 2017, the current ‘Princess of R ‘n’ B’, Kelela calls in at the Manchester Academy 2, for one of only three UK dates.
A second generation Ethiopian-American, the singer-songwriter mixes a beautiful, stirring voice with heavy sampled bass beats. Kelela’s sensuous falsetto vocals, reminiscent of Chante Moore at her best, meander through jazzy mid-tempo grooves, to create a thoroughly wondrous sound. Definitely worth getting to, if you can!
Baxter Dury, Manchester Gorilla, February 21
Having a life-long involvement in the music industry, from appearing on the cover of his dad, Ian Dury’s debut album, New Boots And Panties as a five year old, to releasing music himself over the past 15 years, Baxter Dury has arguably experienced a tough time living in Mr Dury Sr’s shadow.
Character studies and social observation vignettes form much of Baxter’s work, which are made with consummate attention to detail. His fifth album, the 29-minute short, Prince Of Tears released in 2017 (on Heavenly Records) is, at times a haunting piece that contains more expletives than his Dad’s work, is likely to feature heavily at this Gorilla show.
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, Manchester Academy, February 22
Prolific in 2017, having released 5 studio albums (including the brilliant Sketches Of Brunswick East) along with numerous live shows, Aussie psychedelic rockers, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard return to Manchester for this Academy date.
Considering this is an all-standing space and has a number of bar areas, hats off to the promoter and venue for making this an all age event. Though under 14s need to be with an adult, it shows such initiative can be taken and is a lesson to all that offering live music to younger teenagers is both inclusive and contributes to extending an audience of musical appreciation.
Well done Manchester Academy, Now Wave and Strange Days!