1797989_618584538221150_483901747_n– THE CASTLE HOTEL, MANCHESTER –

For the second time in four days I’m at the Castle for some live music. Tonight’s lineup features Happyness with support from Manchester’s Butcher The Bar. Taking advantage of a warm evening, much of the crowd crammed into the outside area at the back of the venue awaiting the start of tonight’s entertainment.

Beginning with 30 seconds of noise, Butcher The Bar’s frontman Joel Nicholson says “that’s just to get people in from outside”. Sure enough, the last few stragglers arrive and the set gets going with the first song of the night. The band’s sound has hardened over the years, even since 2011 album For Each A Future Tethered their songs have become a little noisier. I think it’s a good progression and judging by the reaction of the rest of the crowd I think most people here would agree.

During the performance, Nicholson exclaims “I usually work Friday nights, so this is extra special for me”. The seven song set pleases the audience and my favourite track is ‘Bobby’, a single from 2011, complete with it’s excellent introduction.

There’s just enough time for a trip to the bar before headline act Happyness take to the stage. Starting with ‘It’s On You’, which first featured on last year’s self-titled EP. The track is now also included on debut album Weird Little Birthday released this week. It causes a section of the crowd to start dancing straight away.

Introducing next song ‘Leave The Party’, bassist Jonny Allan tells the crowd “everybody’s got it into their heads it’s about killing people at parties, it isn’t really”. The song was the first I’d heard from the band and it’s my favourite from their debut album. That translated into the live performance too and it was my favourite song of the night.

Another track from the album, ‘Naked Patients’, is next. Following it, guitarist Benji Compston tells us “we’re playing songs from our album, which is now a thing”. Allan follows up immediately with “it’s been unavailable for a really long time, and now it’s available”. Despite the name of the band, the tone of the comments coming from the stage is not especially happy. The songs don’t elicit a strong sense of glee either, but I don’t mind too much, since I’m enjoying the performance.

A close contender to be my favourite song of the night comes later in the set, “the only song we ever wrote about a domestic appliance” claims Allan before the explosive minute and a half of ‘Refrigerate Her’.

The set comes to a close with two songs not on the album, ‘A Whole New Shape’ is the first of those, a new song that we can expect on a future recording. The finale is then ‘Montreal Rock Band Somewhere’, which featured on last year’s EP. Allan defends the lyrics of the song by saying “everyone thinks it’s about scalping the lead singer of Arcade Fire, it’s not really”, adding “we just like his hair”.

I enjoyed the night, both bands were in good form and I have no hesitation to recommend them both. The debut album from Happyness and this live performance do a lot to suggest they may be gracing our airwaves for some time to come.

Happyness  Official | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

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.