Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott return to Castlefield Bowl, to bring down the curtain on this years Sounds of the City.
The line up had changed earlier in the day, after if was announced that Elvis Costello had to withdraw through ill health. Thankfully at such short notice Manchester Punk Rockers Buzzcocks, stepped in to fill the bill.
Tonight’s first support act was London Based “When Young”.
When Young are Aoife Power (Vocals/Bass), Niall Burns (Guitar) and Andrew Flood (Drums) who originate from Limerick in Ireland but are currently based in London.
First meeting as teenagers, sneaking into the only indie bar of their city in Ireland, they bonded over cheap vodka and The Velvet Underground. Soon after, they delivered an excellent set, with their latest offering Heaven on Earth the stand out track. They are embarking on a nationwide tour in September and will be performing at Manchester’s Neighbourhood festival.
As the Buzzcocks took to the stage the Castlefield Bowl was pretty much full, and as the band set about setting ablaze of high octane tunes, turning the clock back 0ver 40 years, it was still all there, yes there may be a grey hair or two, who’s counting? Pete Shelly still delivers a great vocal and that lyrical awareness of engaging the audience. Steve Diggle shared vocal duties with Shelley and has lost none of his energy prowling and Jumping (Townsend Like), as he was back on the stages of the late 70, s, the band acknowledged Tonight’s missing support act and dedicated a couple of songs to him and his health.
All the Classics where there, opening with “Boredom”, “Autonomy”, and “Orgasm addict” set the pace. “Sick City sometimes” along with “Promises”, had things bubble ling nicely, then the anthemic “Ever fallen in love (with someone you shouldn’t’ve) was the pinnacle of a blistering performance, Diggle brought things to a close with a fabulous rendition of “harmony in my head”. Now in their 60’s this was a statement all be it at short notice, that Punk is still alive, thanks to the Buzzcocks.
Paul Heaton & Jaqui Abbott take to the stage as the sun goes down, not something we say that often here in Manchester, a real buzz in the air, the heat is still warming the bones, Heaton & Abbott take to the stage to prematurely close this years run of events for Sounds of the City. Opening with “ I don’t see them” and “The Lord is a white con” its clear both crowd and artists have come to let their hair down.
Heaton has a great repour with the audience and seems so much at home and in his element, he promises a foray into old and new and duly delivers the first Housemartins song “Sheep”, followed by the Beautiful Souths “One last Love song”. We where treated to a masterclass of music, a depth of songs from the Housemartins, and the vastly underrated work of The Beautiful South.
Heaton introduces all the band members who live in or around Manchester and it has to be said that they are the third member of the band, so tight so powerful a joy to watch. What Heaton is superb at is delivering sartorial and quick-witted lyrics and story lines, bring on the first mass sing along of the night “Manchester”, what better place to let loose than in front what is now a home crowd. What Heaton delivers Abbott easily matches next up is “Rotterdam”, another anthem and allows Abbott to lift the crowd a little more, (although they seem to be doing fine).
Things have now become a real song fest with the crowd in full flow “Sail this ship alone”, has the arms, mostly with cameras phones aloft, all vying for a spot to cover the stage. “old red eyes is back” and “Don’t marry her” now has the dad dancing busting out, Heaton is working the crowd as if he had just scored the winning goal in the world cup final.
“Perfect 10” a real opportunity for the band let themselves go. “Song for whoever” brought to an end a 21-song set, after a short break the band came back to deliver” A Little Time” was jazzed up a real rocky edge and delivery that dragged you into a mass sing along. Then ending the first encore with the ever so infectious “Happy hour”, cue the canon confetti and another mass dance along.
Coming back on stage for a second encore, to “You keep it all in” and the releasing of giant balloons into the audience, it was like a scene from The Prisoner for those that remember, before ending on the ultimate sing along song of the Night “Caravan of Love”.
25 songs covering so many classics, a band who where in top form a crowd that have come to party, and a setting that fills its brief, Sounds of the City, many years have passed since I first saw The Housemartins and then the growth and development of The Beautiful South, for me and the masses this has been a pleasure and like this warm weather long may it last.