Having missed Radar Bros in April when they were due to play Manchester last (here) I thought that was it for 2008. But this late-notice gig not only made up for the disappointment but was a gem, a real highlight of the year.
I arrived to catch Dan Haywood's New Hawks mid-set. Six musicians including two fiddle players, four of the band wearing hats (bobble, peaked, woolly and furry) so there's no doubt this is folk music. But of quite a curious variety. Psyche-folk yes, but with added oddity - lyrically and in delivery. Went down well with a small but clearly partisan crowd. You can hear more and buy their EP here.
And without any ceremony and catching the small crowd almost unawares, Radar Bros took to the stage. This is the first gig I had seen at Dulcimer, a bar in Chorlton a few miles out of the city centre. I knew it was going to be intimate but the upstairs room felt full with the 30-40 people there. It made for a fantastically cosy atmosphere with great sound.
Live the three piece band have the same warm charm and slow-motion rhythm found on the records - with an occasional emphatic drum beat or distorted guitar chord to give a slight edge but never jarring. In this setting, the band on a carpeted riser at one end of a small room, it was like a group playing in your front room - and just magical.
Not sure I got this all right but the set list went something like this
When Cold Air Goes To Sleep
Rock of the Lake
A Dog Named Ohio
On The Line
You And The Father
There was a frenzy of activity around the small merchandise table afterwards, with the small crowd buying up back catalogue CDS plus silk-screened posters, T-shirts and even some CDR pressings of the first EP which I picked up. You can get the T-shirt here but you'll have to wait until the next tour to pick up the rest - but Jim suggests a return to Europe could be as early as next Spring.
Tonight was promoted by Matthew at Reverence. Dan Haywood suggested people like him were rock 'n' roll: unsung individuals promoting - at their own expense no doubt - bands out of love. If tonight was anything to go by, long may it continue and please give Matthew your support for future gigs. The Reverence mailing list is here.
WARM RISING SUN