A Bingo Records Showcase


Manchester’s place as the hub of Northern music has never been in dispute and it’s a well known fact that The Castle Hotel in the Northern Quarter has seen its fair share. Bands from all over will come to play in our prestigious venues and Friday night is no different as I head down to check out a litany of Lancastrian bands as part of A Bingo Records Showcase.

It’s a small place but it’s great that such emerging talent have managed to sell out the venue tonight. Settling in, I’m struck immediately by the ‘niceness’ of the crowd – this metal girl is used to a slightly grumpier, more serious crowd but the vibe in The Castle tonight is reminiscent of a bank holiday weekend in the sunshine – everyone’s smiling, everyone’s getting along nicely and it’s all just nice. Nice. Funny word but meant in the most charming possible way in this context.

The nice continues as the first band takes the stage. Sundrift is the first of four bands we’ll be seeing tonight, all hailing from Lancaster, all sporting strong accents and clutching real ales. We’re in good company.

Sundrift start off with their lead staring into the distance, seemingly very nervous and trying to find his vibe. Eventually though his easiness infects the audience and the atmosphere relaxes. Some of his songs are reminiscent of early Crosby/Stills/Nash and when headliner Mr Ben joins him on the drums the crowd moves forward. ‘Daylight’, a lovely sunny song, makes you think of music videos bathed in light. We’re officially off.

Next up is Family Selection Box. Right away I’m struck by their confidence and almost geeky swagger – a total change in tempo from earlier. It takes a while for the crowd to filter back through to the event space but when they do we’re treated to songs about life – “I just want to set my alarm for the following day as I know the one ahead isn’t going to be very nice,” and hanging out at local parks. Everyone seems to know everyone in the crowd and the fun and easy sounds of “Getting your toast out of the toaster” go a long way to encourage the mood. This is good old, British music at its best and the mix of leads – male and female – really makes it pop.

Now the last band before Mr Ben and The Bens are just as endearing. Dog Daisies come in wearing literal walking coats (“they said it was going to rain” the lead singer says a song in, clearly feeling the regatta’s warmth with a smile on his face) and you know it’s only going to get better. Again, there’s a change-up with a harder sound, more confidence and more thought. The gravelly voice of the lead singer really comes through at times and Mr Ben is invited up again, this time displaying his musical talents with some trumpet playing – is there anything he can’t play?!

Right before he starts his set, Mr Ben requests Dog Daisies play his favourite from their recent tour ‘The River Runs Through It’ and the real ales and the temperature rise really have us hooked now.

Then Mr Ben and The Bens are up.

Right off his sound is unique, really fun and just wonderful 60’s rock n roll – the whole group is slick, polished and considered even if they don’t want to look that way.

‘Meet Me at the Corner Shop’ is a definite highlight and the gorgeous keys and trumpet combinations on a couple of tracks are just other wordly. ‘Do You Love Me’, a song he introduces as being about unrequited love, would almost definitely had been met with a resounding “YES” from most of the crowd if he’d been asking seriously!

He banters back and forward with the crowd and the event manager, who’s pretty vocal all night, and it’s again really clear that the crowd are their people – fellow northerners, all there to support their local artist. It’s a little bit magical to see so many people having travelled so far and the sparkle is still there as I walk home.

Cheer’s Bingo Records – what a lovely bunch you are!

Mr. Ben & The Bens: Bandcamp | Facebook