Spring is almost here, so what better way to spend those lighter evenings than gallivanting round Manchester taking in a gig, Getintothis’ Steven Doherty has all the who’s and where’s.
Usually, this intro is either about something that’s annoyed me sufficiently enough to write about or a classic Manchester gig of yore.
This month it’s a combination of the two.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to discuss the Kaiser Chiefs.
No, please, come back.
I know they are not everyone’s cup of tea, but back in the beginning they were a great indie pop band, catchy singles all over the first few albums, but then, as most bands do, especially those from that era, they hit a bit of a lull.
Their rejuvenation started with an intimate (translated as ‘couldn’t fill the bigger places anymore’) gig in 2014 at Gorilla, with a set full of old and new classics, ahead of what turned out to be their massive comeback album Education, Education, Education & War.
They hadn’t played in a while, and the vibe at the time very much felt as if they were finished, a busted flush of a band.
This turned out to be nothing of the sort.
It was a hell of a night, Ricky Wilson at his showboating best, hanging off the low ceiling at the bar, a real return to form, and so it proved, as they were soon reborn and playing arenas again.
But now, in 2020, we are very much back to square one.
They have become the blandest of bands, off the back of releasing two extremely sub-par albums, culminating in a phoned-in performance at a half empty Liverpool University gig last summer.
So, having thought that their current situation, or appearing as a judge on The Voice, as Wilson has in the past, was as bad as it could get for him, I discovered a new career low this week.
A new podcast, entitled Ricky & Tony: Pop Detectives.
The premise to this is that Tony Blackburn (yes, really) and Ricky Wilson are some kind of pretend detectives investigating myths from the history of music, and it is even more horrific than it sounds.
The ten minutes I could bear to listen to was cringe-worthy nonsense from which my toes are still uncurling, it is that bad.
Whoever is managing Ricky Wilson’s career needs to have a long hard look at themselves in the mirror.
But we’ll always have that night at Gorilla.
This month’s extravaganzas then.
The Orielles, Seatbelts: Ritz, March 5
Halifax’s finest The Orielles take a massive step up venue wise to the Ritz this month on the back of last week’s release of new album Disco Volador.
This record has seen them expand their sound from subtle jangle pop to intricate soundscapes, which are set to sound massive in this big room.
Support comes from the equally lovely Seatbelts, ensuring a large contingent from this side of the M62 making there way for an exciting Thursday night out.
Michael Kiwanuka: Apollo, March 7
After spending a great deal of time compiling our festival guides for here and the rest of Europe, we can confirm that this guy is in for a very busy summer.
He returns to Manchester on the back of his most well received album to date, last November’s Kiwanuka.
The Apollo being a sell-out just shows that he is now officially one of the biggest solo stars that this country has and his soulful tones have really struck a chord.
Teeth Of The Sea, Gum Takes Tooth: Soup Kitchen, March 7
Last year’s Deeper Cuts headliners are back on the road together.
This is a mouth related double header that will see Soup Kitchen housing collective heads being blown off as the two line up for a psychedelic, electronica noise fest.
To anyone who witnessed them both tearing up Phase One last summer, this one will already be marked down as a must-see in the diaries.
Twin Atlantic: Academy, March 10
Scots Twin Atlantic bring their heavy rocking vibes to the Academy.
Another band who seem to have grown their following without too much fuss from the ground level up, are playing what for them is quite an intimate tour to promote their recently released fifth album Power, their first record in almost four years.
If you’re in the mood for hooks and riffs, you could do much worse than this.
Jon Hopkins: Bridgewater Hall, March 13
Making what seems like an annual pilgrimage to Manchester, this time plumping for the glorious surroundings of the Bridgewater hall, Jon Hopkins is another riding in the crest of a wave.
This evening is one of a handful of shows Hopkins has chosen to do, incorporating, in his words, “bringing together the two disparate elements of harsh and fragile in my music, in some of the most incredible concert halls in Europe.”
One of the most interesting of instrumentalists in a live setting, you won’t want to hang around procuring tickets for this one.
The Subways, Art Brut: Academy, March 14
Here’s one for the 2000s indie kids.
The Subways are celebrating the 15th anniversary (to the day) of their debut album Young For Eternity, which and are on the road to relive those glory days, having been a bit quiet of late.
But the real news here of course is the support band, one of the greatest from that or any other era, the rarely seen in this country, Art Brut.
Lead by the greatest showman Eddie Argos, they too are celebrating the same anniversary for their debut Bang Bang, Rock & Roll, but as yet their anniversary shows are Germany based only so far, so expect a whole evening of recent nostalgia.
Bad//Dreems: Night People, Manchester 14
Bad//Dreems, for those of you unfamiliar with them are a self-styled ‘outsider rock’ outfit from the South Australian city of Adelaide.
They are here at Night People as part of their six date UK tour, following the release of last October’s third album release, Doomsday Ballet.
Brash, visceral rock, what is there not to love?
Chelsea Wolfe: The Stroller Hall, March 19
Touring last year’s sixth studio album Birth of Violence, US singer-songwriter Chelsea Wolfe makes a long overdue pilgrimage to Manchester.
Famed for having being at home within any kind of genre, she includes metal, folk and straightforward rock within her music, making her quite the non-pigeonholed.
Full preview is here.
Flowvers: Bread Shed, March 21
Flowvers are a quartet of indie, dream-pop lovers from Portsmouth.
They take their inspiration from the likes of Ride and The Cure, so expect an evening of downbeat, shoegaze based pop at the much under-rated Bread Shed.
They released their latest single Throwaway Generation last week to great acclaim, and this could be the track that sees them going places.
Squid: White Hotel, March 21
Gig of the month.
We’ve been bigging Squid up since the start and this sees them make a quick return to Manchester after what seems like quite a few live dates here recently.
This one sees them premiering stuff from their hopefully imminent debut record, and now everyone else has caught up with us early adopters, then the album should see them accelerate their stratospheric rise.
Houseplants, Match Bet and The Cleaner were three of the singles of 2019, if you don’t know them yet, rectify that.
Peeping Drexels: Castle Hotel, March 21
This one too could be a new name to you, but if you like a bit of a shouty riotous noise, which a lot of you seem to do these days, this is a rare up-North show for South London’s Peeping Drexels.
They’re a couple of singles in now, and we recently described them as if “Marc Bolan had lived to see punk, he would have sounded like these”.
Support comes from Welsh also-soon-to-be-stars Chupa Cabra.
You Are Not Alone Festival: Various, March 28
This is the latest edition of the annual one day multi venue festival that raises monies for Manchester Mind, the mental health charity, always a splendid cause.
So there’s absolutely no excuse not to get along to this and if any extra reason was needed, then the line up is top draw.
Lightning Seeds: Ritz, March 28
If you missed them last year at the Philharmonic, then this is another chance to catch the Lightning Seeds on the Jollification 25th (now 26th) anniversary tour.
The almost perfect pop album gets a run out in full, with a best of set from their other albums following that performance.
We are hoping that they get the taste for these tours and we’ll get one for their actually perfect pop album, the follow-up and in our opinion one of the most underrated album of the 1990s, Dizzy Heights.
Fingers firmly crossed.
Also this month:
…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: Night & Day, March 4
Bryan Ferry: Palace Theatre, March 7
Brittany Howard: Ritz, March 9
Dancing On Tables: Castle Hotel, March 10
Julia Bardo: YES, March 11
Halsey: Arena, March 12
Stereophonics: Arena, March 13
Nada Surf: Academy, March 13
Chloe Foy: King’s Arms, March 14
Wolf Parade: YES, March 14
Circa Waves: Gorilla, March 15
The Who: Arena, March 15
Kelis: Albert Hall, March 16
Sam Fender: Victoria Warehouse, March 20-21
The Jesus & Mary Chain: Albert Hall, March 21
Rat Boy: Band On The Wall, March 21
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds: Apollo, March 24-25
Talkboy: Gullivers, March 24
Goldfrapp: Albert Hall, March 25
Porridge Radio: Soup Kitchen, March 26
Fish: Academy, March 27
Hands Off Gretel: Deaf Institute, March 27
Narrow Margin: Bread Shed, March 27
Blossoms: Arena, March 28
GZA: Ritz, March 31
Pinegrove: Academy, March 31