According to the 2011 National Census, there are 577 people that name Cornish as their first language. A small number, but not so bad when you consider that as of the late 18th century, the language was officially extinct. The resurgence has been going for some decades now, and one of the leading lights of the revival movement is the poet and journalist Tim Saunders. Tonight at Gullivers, Tim’s daughter Gwenno is bringing her newly released all Cornish album Le Kov to the stage, and it alone justifies the hard work that has been put in to give this language the life that it deserves.

Gwenno rose to the fore as a member of the great 2000s indie pop group The Pipettes, and like Rose Elinor Dougall from the band, she is two albums deep into a high calibre solo career. Gullivers is a sell-out tonight, and whilst there may not be too many native Cornish speakers here, these songs are welcomed with love. The language barrier is no more than a thin veil and certainly no dampener to the energy and joy in the room.

After the opening song, Gwenno delivers the line of the night: “It’s Friday night, here’s a song about the patriarchy”. She is backed by a four piece band and the five of them together conjure a hypnotising, light psychedelic wash of sound that is driven more by keyboard than guitar. In a landscape waterlogged by heavy psych bands, tracks such as ‘Eus Keus?’ and ‘Jynn-Amontya’ show that Gwenno’s music has an elegant, mature touch that sets it apart.

One of the standouts is ‘Tir Ha Mor’, which translates as Land and See. Gwenno explains that it is inspired by the Cornish landscape painter Peter Lanyon, whose work she also tells us is currently on display at the Whitworth Art Gallery. With a chorus as strong as this song’s, 200 Mancunians suddenly become confident Cornish speakers, singing the title back at the stage as one. Indeed, after attempting to teach us a four line chorus about the importance of cheese (which proves to be a bridge too far for this Friday night crowd), Gwenno later remarks that we might just be the largest congregation of Cornish speakers for quite some time.

‘Herdhya’ (Pushing Backwards) is a track written in the aftermath of the EU referendum. Gwenno describes lying on a Cornwall beach, hallucinating a city on the horizon where all are welcome – the city is called Le Cov, after which the album is named. She does a great job of providing context for these songs tonight, and most of them have backstories worth telling. She is an immensely thoughtful songwriter: she tells us that her first album was inspired by a dystopian novel about an alien race that fail in their global domination because they can’t understand the Welsh language. One imagines they might struggle with Cornish too. Viva minority languages.

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Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.