By Desh Kapur
It's year 4 for Neighbourhood festival – and it’s sold out yet again, NBHDFestival is one of the most important festivals on the calendar, in my humble opinion, that is. Why? I hear you ask. Well, it’s a massive one-day explosion of new music intertwined with some more well-known artists, and it takes over inner city Manchester. Here is why I think it’s so special.
I have covered 3 of the NBHD Festivals now and the amount of young kids and teenagers that attend this one day festival is impressive, AND oh so important. It shows that the youth still want to see live music; it brings new, up and coming artists to the kids who then become the essence of these bands fan-base. It proves that live music right at the entry level is still alive and relevant. It makes me smile to see packed out venues for relatively unknown bands. It makes me smile that live music is still safe and new bands are still getting heard, and in this world of uncertainty and fake news, music is still real.
Live performances in over ten venues - most of them within a couple of streets of each other, plus a few special spaces within a few minutes walk – featuring over 100 bands. What is there not to get excited about? And the bands playing this year takes it all up another notch, MILES KANE, THE SHELOCKS, TEN TONNES, THE BLINDERS, INHALER, TESSA VIOLET, THE ACADAMIC, THE K’S, GIANT ROOKS, BUZZARD BUZZARD BUZZARD and the list goes on.
With so many bands in so many venues, it was going to be impossible for me to see them all or even to see all the bands I wanted to check out, so I had to plan my day carefully. Firstly I apologise to all those amazing bands I missed, but this was the list I came up with, in order of how my day was going to pan out, The Sherlocks, Tessa Violet, Ten Tonnes, Inhaler, The K’s, The Academic, Giant Rooks, and then last but not least, the mighty mighty Miles Kane. Happy times indeed!
So starting off in Manchester Academy, first cab off the rank was The Sherlocks and it shows how popular these lads are right now that at 2pm in the afternoon, the Academy was packed out. The audience were not disappointed. After an unusual entry which involved lead singer Kiaran Crook arriving on stage in a wheelie bin (not sure what that was about, bit clumsy but moving on), bringing to the stage their own blend of driving sweet power Indie Pop reminding me in parts of Manchester heroes, The Courteeners.
Seamless harmonies with soaring choruses, blending well with hard-hitting guitar and they actually sounded better live than on record. The band interacted well with the audience and soon had them singing, dancing and swaying with each track, even helping lead singer Kiaran Crook with his vocals. Then, as quickly as they arrived, they were gone, to much appreciation and applause. Great start to the day.
So a quick walk down Oxford Street and it was time to pop in to the iconic Gorilla. With a queue already snaking around the corner, it was time for the singer-songwriter and video blogger from the United States, Tessa Violet to step up. Decked out in orange jumpsuit with bright yellow hair, the lady didn’t disappoint the now packed out Gorilla. Her unique brand of lo-fi sweet Indie pop songs, full of catchy pop hooks and sweet soaring choruses, underscored by heartfelt lyrics went down a treat with the crowd at Gorilla and she was rewarded with heartfelt sincerity as her words were sang back to her in buckets.
Over the road to the O2 Ritz in time for George Ezra’s younger brother Ten Tonnes. It seems being brothers is only thing they have in common; musically they are so different. Ten Tonnes delivering a set of guitar driven Indie Rock, breezy guitar sing-alongs, a little Jack White and lot like The Kooks. Another packed out venue, the festival was kicking arse and the kids were loving it. By now the streets of Manchester were a buzz with music lovers, packed out venues and smiles on faces everywhere.
Round the corner and it’s the venue known as YES and THE PINK ROOM and yes its very pink. Packed on the tiny stage were Dubliners, Inhaler, fronted by Bono's son Eli Hewson and that’s where the comparisons end. They have more in common with another famous Dublin band Thin Lizzy and Phil Lynott than U2. It’s great to see this young man forging his own musical path and not riding on his Dad’s coat-tails. Indie rock power pop and great songs will see this boys go a long way.
Back up Oxford Street to Academy O2 for The K’s who have recently signed to Alan McGee’s new label Creation23 and watching them rip up the Academy 2 stage to another packed room, I understand why. Taking influence from The Jam, The Strokes and even a little of The Ramones, The K’s play power indie rock of the highest order. A must see again band.
The next few bands I was going to catch were going to be playing The Academy O2 stage so my legs got a rest and I got a pint. Next up were Giant Rooks, an alt rock band from Germany with a little folkiness on the side, and I have to say they were more than excellent in all aspects. Great song-writing and songs, a very tight band, an enigmatic lead singer in Frederik Rabe. I enjoyed there show from the first note to the very last one. In thirty or so short minutes Giant Rooks managed to completely capture the entire venue.And when they play the UK again, I for one will be right there at the beginning of the queue, trying to get a ticket.
The Academic were up next and this band is vibing, I hear people talking about them all the time, so I was more than keen to see what all the talk was about. I wasn’t disappointed. The Academic are indie rock band from Westmeath, Ireland and they are very very good. They play the sweetest set of catchy tunes and yet again a packed out venue loved every minute of it. Sweat dripping off the bands, condensation running down the walls, this is the stuff we all crave when we go to see a live band.
My last artist of the night was playing in the main room at Manchester Academy and it was the ex Rascal and Shadow Puppet, Liverpool’s own Miles Kane. By this time the main room was packed, literally to the rafters, people shouting and chanting for the man they had come to see. And he didn’t disappoint, launching to a storming set of Mod tinged Indie Blues/Rock, delivered in the coolest way possible; this man just oozes cool.
Kane stomped through songs spanning across his three solo albums, including latest release ‘Coup De Grace’. If Miles Kane had come to show everyone that he can write great songs - mission accomplished. If he came to show that he can serve of up a set that could tear the roof of any venue and hold the crowd in his hand - mission accomplished.
So the day comes to an end and I’m left with a couple of thoughts, Neighbourhood Festival needs to always be Manchester’s premium inner city festival and secondly I really want to do this again next year, bloody good stuff!!!
MILES KANE – COME CLOSER
GIANT ROOK – WILD STARE
TESSA VIOLET – CRUSH
THE K’S – GLASS TOWN
THE ACADEMIC – BEAR CLAWS
INHALER – ICE CREAM SUNDAE
TEN TONNES - LUCY
THE SHERLOCKS – CHASING SHADOWS