A sunny Saturday afternoon saw the start of the first Manchester Neighbourhood Festival when eleven different venues hosted ninety one different acts.
Running from mid-day until late in the evening there was a wonderful vibe at all the venues as people criss– crossed the city to the different venues.
Whether it was Liam Fray, Blossoms and White Lies or young upcoming bands such as The Blinders and Cabbage that you wanted to see, they all played a short set during the day. At one point I counted 15 transit van loading or unloading equipment on the street at the side of Sound Control.
Most of the venues were packed all day with a one in one out policy in operation later in the day when hugh good natured queues built up.There were far too many bands to to see more than a handful but I managed to get to five different venues and saw a variety of acts before my “real” job called me back!
Rae Morris an early starter at a packed Gorilla played a beautiful assured set to an appreciative audience.
Next a short walk around the corner to Sound Control where I caught the end of The Pigeon Detectives set. For 1 o’clock in the afternoon the band and crowd were rocking, with crowd surfing and stage diving livening things up . Before this I didn’t know much about the band but I definitely want to catch them again.
The band I’d come to see The Blinders were up next, a three piece from Doncaster now based in Manchester. They drew a large crowd and such is the buzz about the band that a lot of Manchester’s “movers and shakers” turned up along with a few members of other more established bands. These guys are electric with their indie blues and political consciousness.
A trip round the corner to Revolution was next and here Jordan Allen was playing a small venue to an appreciative crowd. Jordan has had a fantastic 12 months with spots at Leeds and Reading being a highlight. His set to today was short and punchy showing exactly why he is one to watch in the next year.
Back round the corner again now to The Ritz, and iconic venue for what is fast becoming an iconic band, Blossoms. The Stockport lads are clearly enjoying life and success but it certainly hasn’t gone to their heads as I photographed a couple of them on the street outside The Ritz posing with fans in the sunshine. With the venue full long before they hit the stage, Blossoms played most of the new album and singles to an adoring almost hysterical crowd and as I left teenage girls were lying in the foyer being treated by para-medics.
Finally, for me, were White Lies at The Albert Hall, another iconic Manchester venue packed to the rafters. Not a band I know well, post punk White Lies ran through tracks from their last album Friends along with a few older favourites and were rapturously received by the crowd.
As I left, a hugh queue snaked down Peter Street with people hoping to get in to see Liam Fray, most I fear would be unsuccessful as not many people were leaving.
Such has been the success of this first Neighbouhood Festival (selling out weeks ago) that tickets for next year will shortly go on sale. With such a vast array of talent available locally and so many great venues to choose from how can this festival not get bigger and better becoming one more thing that Manchester is famous for?