602011_10151729888683190_1094159370_n– THE RUBY LOUNGE, MANCHESTER –

Tonight at the Ruby Lounge I have a good idea of what to expect. Support comes from two bands I have already seen in 2014 and headline act Goldheart Assembly are to play their debut album Wolves and Thieves in full. There are one or two small surprises left for me though.

Opening act Bird To Beast first started entertaining me less than three weeks ago. On that occasion there were four of them on stage, tonight they number only two. The two on stage are Sam and Hannah Hird. Sam addresses the situation saying “Sometimes we have a band, sometimes we don’t”. As you’d expect, without a band the sound is slightly different, but it is no less enjoyable. If anything, it reinforces the vocal ability the pair both possess.

The Cornelius Crane are second up. It was January I last saw them on this same stage. The band dedicate tonight’s set to the recently departed Steve Lloyd. As co-owner of The Roadhouse, sound engineer and musician in his own right, frontman Steve Wilson calls him “the glue holding Manchester’s music scene together”. Without a pedal steel guitar this evening, the band also have a slightly changed sound this time out. A sound they describe as ‘Mancana’, “Manchester with a little bit of cuban cana”. Late in their set Wilson announces “this is a new song, it’s got no name” before they play my favourite song of the performance. Hopefully they’ll give it a name soon so I can let the world know they should listen to it.

Before Goldheart Assembly take to the stage, singer and bass player James Dale spends what seems like an age tuning an autoharp. Once it’s time for the band to perform, Dale is first to speak saying “We’re going to play the songs from our debut album, in order”. Singer and guitarist John Herbert follows up saying “and you will be tested”.

The crowd pass the first test, the majority being aware that the first track is ‘King Of Rome’. Following the song Dale lets us know “that one was the hit, so you can go out now if you want”. I didn’t see anybody taking his offer as the band move onto track two ‘Anvil’. The autoharp makes its first appearance on third track ‘Last Decade’ and having stayed just about in tune the time spent preparing it pays off.

Usual set closer ‘Engraver’s Daughter’ takes it place as the sixth track of the set, the track builds well as the band really attack it. It’s clear why they use it to close shows and Herbert confesses “it’s weird playing it in the middle”. The second half of the album continues and five of the final six songs of the album are played to a good reception. The album’s tenth track ‘Interlude’ is the exception, it’s played out from an ipod with Dale confessing “we couldn’t play that one live”.

Following a short time off stage, the band reappear and exclaim it’s time for them to take requests. There are a few different songs called for before Dale announces “the idiot, we’ll take the idiot”. They do then play ‘The Idiot’ from 2013 album Long Distance Song Effects. More calls come from the crowd once that’s over and the rest of the set list is decided. Herbert makes sure everyone is on board saying “We’ll play ‘Stephanie’ then ‘Harvest In The Snow’ then ‘Oh Really’. Is everyone happy with that?”. We are all happy with that, and we’re still all happy with it after they’ve played the tracks.

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Adam Smith

There is nothing I'd rather be doing with my evenings than watching excellently crafted live music. In fact, there isn't much I'd rather be doing than watching half-decent live music. Having too often seen excellent bands fail to garner the attention I believe they deserve, I'm here to spread the good word of the under-appreciated musical performer. I encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same.