High Wyre


The midsummer months are pretty barren ground for us gig-aholics, with bands spending most of their time on the festival circuit. But in the absence of the established names, this time of year provides a perfect chance to explore some of the local artists plying their trade, hoping for their lucky break. Tonight at the Castle Hotel, a clutch of such contenders are raring to go.

I am told that tonight is Luke Steinman’s first ever time on stage, and that he had been essentially bullied into doing it. Well, if that is the case, you could have fooled me. This man has spoken word poetry pouring out of him, a cascade of righteous, eloquent wisdom, with the able guitar accompaniment of his friend Dan. Not all of his songs are political (one in particular about a difficult visit to the Whitworth Art Gallery is memorable), but his best material is driven by his fury at the current desperate state of things. He adorns a tweed flat cap for a track I can only assume is titled ‘I Ain’t Racist, But…’, a tirade that systematically dismantles the misdirection and bigotry that lies at the centre of modern Britain’s troubles. If this is Steinman on night one, who knows where his future could take him.

Next up are Mada Cram, a Manchester trio led by guitarist and vocalist Adam Smith. They are a juggernaut on stage, clicking immediately into a charging, pacey rhythm and barely letting the pace drop for their forty minute slot. Smith’s scowling vocals are impassioned, battling bravely against a throat bug that he was never going to allow to derail things. Their music is charged with angst, but with the pop knowledge to convey it, meaning there is a directness that makes it easy for an audience to connect with them. It’s amazing how many bands don’t seem to realise this; avoiding over-complicating songs means the focus can remain on appealing to the listener’s instinct to lock into a melody. That’s what audiences want!

Mada Cram’s songs range from the anthemic ‘I’ll Keep Coming Back’ to ‘Double Mind’, with its huge riff underpinned by the rock solid bass of Artur Wielogorski and drums of Josh Porter, to ‘Surreal’, their jauntiest and catchiest track. The intensity of the set is evidenced by Smith taking a moment to catch his breath before the crescendo of set closer ‘Still Want Her’, which is never a bad sign.

Headlining are High Wyre, a trio from the North West, who tonight are launching their debut self-titled EP. Their music is defined by a heartfelt sincerity that is not that common in indie music, blending the energy of early 2000s pop punk with some of that open road Americana DNA. Frontman Alex Hulme is the brother of Songs for Walter’s Laurie Hulme, unmistakably so for anyone familiar with that underrated local singer-songwriter, and they share a sense of humour. Tracks from the EP dominate the set for obvious reasons, with tracks like ‘Home’ and ‘Why’ all well received in the room. ‘New Leaves’ is probably their calling card song, boasting the biggest chorus of the night. The song is slick and accessible, ready to explode onto radio playlists at any moment. If the big break comes for High Wyre, or indeed for any of tonight’s acts, this evening will prove to be a prized memory for everyone in attendance.

High Wyre: Bandcamp | Facebook | Twitter

Max Pilley

I'm a refugee in Manchester, having successfully escaped Birmingham in 2007. I'm a soon-to-be journalism student, used to edit the music section of the Manchester Uni paper, and have done a little radio production to boot. I've been adding bits and pieces to Silent Radio since 2012, mostly gig reviews, but a few albums too. Also hoping now to get involved with the brilliant radio show. When doing none of that, you can usually find me at some gig venue somewhere around town.