Here’s the thing….Manchester is very proud of its music scene (and rightly so), not to mention intent on giving burgeoning artists the opportunity to showcase their talents, to the extent that it will squeeze a gig in anywhere it can! Tonight proves to be no exception when Gullivers plays host to the fantastically energetic, five-piece pop band from Leeds that is Heir! Just after 9pm, the boys emerge to pack themselves tightly onto the somewhat spatially challenged stage, in the upstairs Ballroom of this ‘lively and bustling traditional boozer’, on the Ancoats end of Old Street. The charming little nook is reminiscent of that bygone era of Lindy Hop and tea dances. And, in the true spirit of a continually evolving Manchester, reinvents itself, and, becomes a 100-capacity gig venue.

I’ll level with you, ‘pop’ isn’t ordinarily ‘my thing’ and I’m going in completely unacquainted with these guys, but, Heir kick-off with the catchy and melodic ‘Restless’, and I am instantly lit up by their infectious energy. Then, straight into a beautifully crafted ‘Need You the Most’ and rhythmic biopic ‘Spare Room’, an ode to their very own spare room, strongly advising us never to stay the night! And, yes, you’ve guessed it…I’m hooked! Meanwhile, front man Tom Hammond proceeds to wiggle around the best he can in such a tight space and declares, “It’s a lovely venue, but not enough space to dance! It’s like the student halls!”

It is a ‘young’ crowd playing out tonight, with a good balance of boys and girls. And, despite facial expressions conveying a mixture of adoration and sheer glee, they are somewhat lacklustre in physical vitality (maybe because it’s a school night?!), and, Tom jokingly addresses them as “stubborn little stick men” and requests “smacks on the bums” be issued to anyone not dancing! I’m baffled as to how a packed out room of 20-somethings would not want to bounce around to such fresh, yet, powerful and catchy tunes! To be fair, they do applaud and cheer most emphatically.

Tonight’s support comes in the shape of my favourite local indie rock outfit Hayes & Y, who are regulars on the Manchester circuit (and the reason my interest in this gig was peaked in the first place). These four hardworking lads, from Bulgaria and Finland, give us a dedicated 30 minute set, opening with the contagious ‘The Feeling’. Singer/rhythm guitarist Blaggo can reach and hold those high notes, for sure! Ivo is ‘getting his bass on’, good and proper tonight, while Rado does a sterling job of manning both the lead guitar and synthesizer, and I am in awe of drummer Dennis’ amazing skill and energy, as the band continue with ‘Over’, ‘Blue’, ‘Always So Simple, Always So Cold’, all of which channel a slight 80’s electronica vibe. Last up is ‘Another Released Track’, which Blaggo informs me between sets is the band’s “personal favourite to perform live”. This, might I add, is obvious, especially when Blaggo downs tools mid song, lunges himself onto the keys and morphs into a Jim Morrison-esque being!

Back to Heir, and the crowd has livened up a treat now. Tom announces on behalf of the band, “we’re having the time of our lives on this tour”. This is clearly evident, as is the chemistry between himself and synth player, Sam Perry. All five members remain upbeat, effervescent and smiling to the very end. And I well and truly take my hat off to Samuel Newham, who has drummed enthusiastically for over an hour, in a two-foot square space. New single ‘After Forever’ is the second to last tune, and Tom tells us that “as the stage is too small for an encore, just go ape-shit” and they happily oblige! A mesmerising ‘Poet’ rounds off the evening nicely, but I would happily stay for more.

In short, this is an entertaining, mid-week offering, and well worth missing the football for! In my opinion, there’s nothing finer in life than discovering new artists and their music, and with Heir, I was not disappointed. I look forward to catching up with both bands in the near future. And, in the meantime, I wish them both all the love, recognition and success they deserve. Keep on keeping on, guys!

Heir: Official | Facebook | Twitter