Its 10 to 11. The curfew for most Manchester venues is merely minutes away. Yet, as most bands are packing up to the sound of roars from the audience, there is one band that is just coming on stage. The band is Tops and this is not due to any lateness, but the fact that Now Wave has decided to put on an awesome line up tonight, which even saw Bill Ryder-Jones play a set of as yet unheard songs. Such a late performance on a school night could see many leave early but everyone has waited around and we were in for a treat.

The lead singer sports a Chastity Belt top, a band who effuse the same cool attitude as Tops but have fun in a slightly different way (See ‘Cool Sluts’). Such support for an all-women band is fitting for tonight, with the lead singer and her female guitarist leading the band along every contour and through every sun-blitzed tunnel. They play the catchy ‘Blind Faze’ which they puncture with an entrancing breakdown and some beautiful chord playing. The clock strikes 11 and it is a great start, no one is going anywhere.

Their album while a success can lose its grasp after a while, but live they are a different animal, they are formidable and a revisit to their ‘Picture You Staring’ album is long overdue. Yet the album seems like an entry point to Tops’ long road which takes diversions into many genre-bending sounds tonight and reveals new dimensions, as yet undiscovered. In the mold of Bill Ryder Jones, they join him in playing some new songs and one with a great riff, particularly stands out. It was written in England and captivates the whole audience tonight, again, no-one is even inching towards the exit and its half 11.

The atmospheric ‘Outside’ comes next and sees the lead singer make reference to shadows in the streetlights and they are looming ever nearer now with the night drawing in, but nobody here cares, work is a distant thought. ‘Driverless Passenger’ is immersive and helps us take another step along a rather fantastic journey; it preps us perfectly for what is to come next.

What comes next is ‘Way to be Loved’, potentially the most catchy song of ‘Picture you Staring’. It’s a great finale; it’s euphoric and gives us a perfect ending to a fantastic evening, which is bound to send us all to work the following days, with sore heads and terrible hangovers.

When we leave, the buses have ended and the sound of rubbish swirling through the air is all we can hear. As we ring for the taxi, it becomes clear that nearly every audience member will now be experiencing this increase in expenditure. But no-one cares, tonight has been well worth it and please can we have more fantastic line ups, more late sets and more parties on a Wednesday?

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Paddy Kinsella

Hi all, my name is Paddy and I have a love for everything from African music to indie to house (basically anything other than heavy metal). Gigging and listening to albums are genuinely the things I most value and love doing.