A Certain Ratio Have some Funk Just for the Funk of it at the Ritz Manchester
Pop history is full of hugely influential acts who never received the success or credit they deserved. But it is hard to think of many who have been as influential as A Certain Ratio and remained almost completely unknown to the public.
ACR were one of the first artists on Factory Records, were responsible for the label’s first single-artist release (the All-Night Party single in May 1979) and were pioneers of what became known as “punk funk”. Their impact now stretches from Talking Heads to Happy Mondays, from the Rapture to the Invisible to the Red-Hot Chili Peppers. The band are legends in Manchester, but recognition has come more from fellow musicians, Factory obsessives and dancefloor-friendly indie hipsters than from the man in the street. This year has seen A Certain Ratio’s entire back catalogue reissued by Mute Records, which has given the band the chance of revitalising themselves, to show that they are deserving of their legendary status, and this hometown show is the best way to showcase themselves.
Tonight’s Special guests are no strangers to supporting ACR, it’s not difficult to see why Gramme are from the same cut from the same cloth, Precise Electro Funk vibes, with all the structured and layered, there’s a positivity an energy thrown off by the enigmatic singer Sam Lynham, who seems intent on getting this party started.
Taking to the stage and straight away into “Sounds like something Dirty”, one to get us warmed up. Denise Johnson joins the band on stage having worked with a who’s who of bands and artists over the years it was no surprise to see Denise step into the fray. “Do the Du”. “Wild Party”, Flight” And “Forced laugh” The highlight though is “Mind made up”, which features some truly jaw-dropping bass work from Jezz Kerr and grooves languidly on a foundation of tightly syncopated beats and well-placed keyboard riffs”.
“Rialto” and “And then again”, keep the Funk up, there is a maturity about how these songs have progressed over the years, an element of how far ahead in many areas they where on there contemparies. “Forever” Brings New York dance music into the heart of |Manchester, reminiscent of the Break-dance days.
“Wont Give up on You” sees the rather soulful and excellent Denise Johnson come into her own, musically the band are spot on, but Denise’s vocals took this track to another level.
“Good together”, “Wonder why “followed by”Wanna Be”, Martin Moscrop swings between guitar and trumpet pushing the envelope with funk infused riffs, both on guitar and trumpet. The unmistakable intro to “Shack up” kick in and its an all bells and whistles affair, as it ends the show.
After a short interlude and the incessant calling from the crowd of we want more, the band return for a three-song encore. Up first is “The Fox” followed by the enthralling “Knife slits water”. In Kerr and Moscrop ACR have a fluidity a flux in which the band transform, but there is no doubt that in Donald Johnson on Drums and percussion as well as vocals this where all that fluidity comes together, its where the Funk Begins, from minimalist percussion to the hard driven drum beats and awesome high hats of the funkiest rhythms. The last track of the night is” Si Firmir O Grido”, no punches pulled here as they bring to a close what has been an excellent evening, one that sees them send home a fanbase (some of whom had travelled from Texas”, happy in the knowledge that the music just gets better, there will be more gigs next year and a back catalogue of music will be available in the future.
ACR are the hidden gem of Manchester music.