Maybe it’s the three day recovery from Parklife Weekender, but inside I hardly feel top for tonight’s Fresh & Onlys gig, a band who have been on my list of who to see live for quite a while now…so I have to power through. And is it me or has Soup Kitchen done a little… rearranging? I’ll say it’s probably all for the better this place has a mini makeover. Hardly recognizing which venue I’m in, the hazy basement is full of, let’s just say, my kind of people. We walk in halfway through a set by Sex Hands, a band I’ve only just been introduced to and they are absolutely slaying it on stage. Having not given myself enough time to catch their whole set, you can guarantee a full report for July 6th’s support with Temple Songs at Band On The Wall.

“We’re from San Francisco, California, your brother city. I mean, sister city?” says Fresh & Onlys frontman Tim Cohen from the stage as he declares “If you be the girl, I’ll be the boy”. Whatever that innuendo that means, it strikes a chord with this humble Wednesday night crowd and earns a few laughs. The Fresh & Onlys tip off their set with the beachy ‘20 Days and 20 Nights’ and sugar coated pop single ‘Yes Or No’, both tunes plucked from the track list of their newest effort Long Slow Dance.

Songs dedicated to the babes of California like the très romantique ‘Dream Girls’ has Cohen batting his eyelashes and swaying his guitar like a young pup in love, while the  introduction to the drum heavy ‘Hummingbird’ involves a lengthy little chat to the crowd about the joys of living in the country.  From the first few songs of the set, it is evident that The Fresh & Onlys have swept the dirt from their old sound under the rug and since cleaned up from the infectious west coast rangler album Grey-Eyed Girls. And although tonight the band are crutching heavily on their new album, they still find a way to unravel a few favourite tracks from 2010’s Play It Strange, playing both ‘Until The End Of Time’ and ‘Fascinated’. Surfing through a healthy thirteen song set, the audience picks up on the crooning vocals in the effortlessly produced ‘Presence Of Mind’ which border closely to Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields family. I have to say, I feel at home with fellow North American West-Coasters around – they all say “man” and “dude” as much as I do and for once, I’m not the odd one out. God Bless America, yeah? Thought so.

Musically, The Fresh & Onlys deliver that familiar warm and cosy garage rock  that has been blooming like wildflowers throughout California for decades. I’ve pegged the bubblegum burst of ‘Euphoria’ as one of their stronger songs of the night, as it’s that perfect type of honest romantic punk rock at best. A handful of tonight’s tracks off  Long Slow Dance are more on the mainstream side of garage rock – still catchy, just more fine tuned than some of their hits like ‘Waterfall’ and ‘Summer Of Love’, a ballad which might have added a well needed ray of sunshine on Manchester tonight. All in all, I say we could use a few more California boys in the UK, wouldn’t you say?

Brit Jean

One time time Gigs Editor over here at Silent Radio HQ. I've been music blogging and writing in Manchester for the past few years after graduating with a Literature degree back home in Canada. Never have I experienced a city quite like Manchester - so many great gigs and so little time! In 2014 I started an Independent Record label, Blak Hand Records with my best mate, and we aim to put out some of our favourite garage rock and psychedelic artists from both Liverpool and Manchester.