It’s coming to the end of the year (a scary thought at that) and naturally, it seems appropriate at this time to adopt the traditional end of year recap, selecting one of our highlights from the Manchester live music calendar. At the end of this week we posted our top gig picks for the weekend which included a headline band I interviewed at the end of October, Manchester group Onions. The trio played at The Castle, on Monday 21st October, as part of the Northern Noise live event supporting tropical indie pop/guitar five-piece Coasts, along with two other stand out alternative Manchester –based bands Isla Nublar and The Hope Edition (previously under the name Civilians). The evening presented a line-up of stand-out performances all under the cover of the characteristically charming venue that is The Castle. The audience on this occasion was relatively small but this did not deter from the highly enjoyable event. The groups all delivered engaging performances and what stood out to me was the unique nature of the gig, I could not help but feel that this was an exclusive music event that many were missing out on, heightened by the atmospheric intimate setting and cementing itself as my choice for The Manchester Culture Show’s Autumn gig highlight.
As well as enjoying a great night of live music I also caught up with Chris Caines (vocals) and Liam Willford (Guitar) from Coasts as well as all three members of Onions– Chris (Drums/Percussion/Backing Vocals), James (Bass/Synth/Vocals) and Martin (Guitar/Bass/Vocals).
Isla Nublar performing at The Castle, 21st October 2013.
What made these interviews both particular highlights was that whilst both bands have received previous press coverage they really stood out to me as groups that are on the cusp of deserved recognition and we were delighted to be ableto find out more about the their music, origins and influences. With this in mind we hope you enjoy the interviews presented exclusively for The Manchester Culture Show!
The first act on stage were band Isla Nublar, a drum and guitar trio who combined 60s and 90s indie rock influences in their five song set, including a cover of Grimes’ ‘Oblivion’, slowed in tempo but equally intensely atmospheric in their delivery and highly enjoyed.
Track Highlights- Ocean Colour, Drown and Oblivion (Grimes cover).
Next on the stage were Manchester’s The Hope Edition, previously known as ‘Civilians,’ the band have been on the scene for just over a year. Usually performing as a five-piece with Andrew Schofield on Guitars/Vocals, Phil Higgins on Guitars/Vocals, Alex Scott on Bass, Ben Bibby on Drums and Daisy Norburn on Keyboards, on this occasion the band performed as a quartet without keys. This certainly did not diminish their sound and as you could tell from the offset how the addition of Daisy on keys would provide another rich musical layer to
The Hope Edition performing at The Castle, 21st October 2013.
the band’s distinct alternative indie-rock style. Performing a seven song set on this occasion The Hope Edition displayed an obvious talent for producing songs that took you on a rich melodic journey. The charming descriptions of some of the tracks they played including Tony Adams (Versus the World) and the vocals that were part of these tracks delivered in a combination of song and spoken word really gave them a distinctive edge. I particularly enjoyed The Lighthouse Keeper, which was about northern musical duo The Lighthouse Family. With a hint of musical influences that alluded to the likes of Joy Division and the Artic Monkeys, the bands effective melodic layering, well placed vocal harmonies and interplaying guitars were a credit to them!
Track Highlights (besides the two mentioned above): Poland, The Great Divide, Delays, Oxford Road and If You See Her.
The Hope Edition are currently working on their first single but you can take a listen to them here.
Alternative quirky indie-pop trio Onions took to the stage as the final support act of the night delivering a striking seven song set, one of which included their exciting upcoming single (Here Comes The) Rage. There is no doubt that the headliners (Coasts) had a lot to live up to following on from Chris, James and Martin, not just from the inventiveness of the musical development each song they performed took but from the genuine fun these guys were having when on stage which clearly reverberated in to the crowd. There’s a whimsical creativity with Onions’ approach to music, these guys know what they are doing combining playful pop harmonies and a range of musical influences with just the right amount of carefreeness. The band opened their set with An IE Or A Y which oozed a retro 60s guitar and vocal influence that also threw a note towards a style reminiscent of Adam and the Ants in the late 70s/early 80s. Cleverly all of these delightful melodic pop compositions deal with an eclectic mix of subject matter not necessarily covered by the mainstream, and sometimes with an element of jest. What is certainly clear is that you won’t forget Onions’ refreshingly alternative musical pop inventions!
Track Highlights (besides those mentioned above): Louise Louise, Look Like a Loser, Belle Vue Fair, and I Want To Be A Dancer – 7″ single available online.
It was a pleasure to speak to the trio and you can listen to the full interview with Onions from their gig at The Castle below, with a note that the interview was conducted pre and post-gig following a juke box malfunction involving singer-songwriter legend Kate Bush. This part of the interview was edited out with all of Onions’ dialogue maintained.
Find out more about Onions on their social media here.
Headliners for the night were Bristol hailing, alternative indie five-piece of Coasts (Ben Street on Drums, Chris Caines on Vocals,
Coasts performing at The Castle, 21st October 2013.
David Goulbourne on Keys, James Gamage on Bass, and Liam Willford on Guitar). With their infectious harmonies, upbeat, tropical guitar style and clear strength in producing catchy song structures, they performed an animated ten song set at The Castle that certainly generated positive hype to see a debut album release! Of course the timing of this review comes in well as Coasts have just released new single Stay (released 11th November) with remixes that capture the tropical indie style they are regularly associated with. Both Stay and the additional single track Come A Little Closer were very well received by The Castle crowd, and whilst a small gathering it was clear that we were listening to a band with a future ahead of them as sun-drenched and dynamic as their performances with their customary palm tree stage prop in tow too! Coasts opened the set with Wallow, a personal favourite of mine with the band taking a darker, rock edge and more experimental use of synth in this track, it was a great choice for an opener.
The band presented a set that very much felt like the construction of a possible track listing for their debut album with previous
Coasts performing at The Castle, 21st October 2013.
tracks including Your Soul and Stone as well as a track that they debuted at The Castle, playing this for the first time on tour. Of course being so wrapped up in the music, I naturally forgot to make a record of this newly delivered track, but the line ‘Let’s find the place where nobody goes’ did not escape me. Synths were put to good use with steel drum effects and a mix of 60s and 80s vibes resonating through that kept the audiences’ feet tapping and naturally, the band ended their set with the anthemic thundering rhythm and gorgeous harmony of debut single Ocean. With comparisons made to the likes of other big indie-rock groups on the scene at the moment including Foals, Two Door Cinema Club and Local Natives the band stand on their own feet, confident in the delivery of their own sound producing shimmering riff driven indie rock and consistent soaring melodies.
Track Highlights: ‘Ocean’, ‘Wallow’, ‘Stay’, ‘Come A little Closer’.
My interview with lead singer Chris and guitarist Liam certainly demonstrates the band’s clear sense of musical identity and the distinct quality of their musical catalogue so far:
Coasts came to the end of their UK tour at the beginning of November but to find out more about the band, their upcoming releases, future tour dates and news visit their social media here.
A massive thanks to Coasts and Onions for taking the time to speak to us! Follow The Manchester Culture Show WordPress blog and social media to keep up to date on tour dates and releases from the featured bands in this post.
Words by MusicLiteratureChick for @mcrcultureshow