561539_499301543496870_63733289_n– THE DEAF INSTITUTE, MANCHESTER –

I’ve been wanting to see Manchester based duo, Bad Grammar for quite a while now and somehow it just never happens, so I’m glad to finally make it to the building of their gig.  Upon entrance my attention is immediately diverted to the merchandise stand where I find some rather fetching Bad Grammar tie dyed t-shirts and also some rather beautiful Giant Drag tour posters.

I am pleased to note that Bad Grammar singer/guitarist, Ben Forrester, is also wearing a tie dyed t-shirt.  He and drummer Lucy Brown seem quite cute, smiley and mild mannered with perhaps a note of geek about them, but the sound they make is slightly at odds with this.  It’s very loud and confident given that there are only two of them and they manage to blast out a full sound.  I would guess at influences of Queens Of The Stone Age, White Stripes and probably some girly rock too, so I’m not surprised when Forrester states that playing with Giant Drag is quite “The Event” for him as he remembers buying their Hearts and Unicorns album on his 16th birthday with Virgin Megastore vouchers. Endearingly he thinks aloud “It’s like we’re a real band”.  It feels a bit like they’re used to messing around making songs together and suddenly they have found themselves on a stage with a big audience and lots of cameras in their face.  They close with their pleasingly titled single ‘Tie or Dye,’ continuing the theme.

As we collect ourselves in the interval and head for the bar, my friend Brendan is suddenly feeling a bit unnerved and reels around; “I didn’t realise there were all those people at the back watching us watching them”.  It’s a bit of a David Lynch moment.

Just like Bad Grammar, I have liked Giant Drag for some years; they used to be a favourite band of mine back in the day, but I had assumed the band were already dead and had never set eyes on them so was surprised and excited to hear they were touring.  A farewell tour with a funeral finale at that.

When Annie Hardy first speaks I wonder whether she’s losing her voice.  There is a husky quality to it.  My friend Steve says it’s more akin to2013-09-13 22.54.34 a lispy Betty Boop.  Later I decide after many references to smoking that it’s more likely a dedicated rock and roll commitment to smoking and hard liquor.

She begins with a couple of well known favourites and I am completely captivated by her between song banter.  She’s very funny in a chirpy and slightly disconnected kind of way; her ability to stream consciousness is endearing.  My boss calls it an “inappropriate familiarity with people”. I warm to her a lot and I immediately regret my earlier terror and subsequent decline of an offer of interview time.  I want Hardy to tell me more about laying this “cursed bitch of a band” (which she informs us is, in its current form with the addition of Tony and Amos, just two days old) to rest.  I want to know how she feels about having a bass player now and I want to know what Hardy plans to do next.  I want to know more and although I get the feeling that speaking with her would not necessarily give you a lot of answers; more likely would raise more questions, I’m sure it would be a great and gainful experience.

Four songs in, after ‘Tired Yet’, the set goes acoustic “Lemonheads style”.  We are treated to the joys of a song called ‘Dennis The Pennis’, a new one for me, and Hardy tells us about how we could all be in an alternative dimension right now and she could be a stripper.  She also explains how drum rolls are much funnier when you do them to yourself.  Then she sings us a brand new song courtesy of ‘some dude.’ That is, she clarifies, it is about him, not written by him.  She sings about “The guy I love the best so he is going to make my life a mess”.  My kind of love song.  The acoustic set is wrapped up with ‘Swan Song’; a song you will want to listen to again.

There is then a freestyle rap before Hardy is rejoined by the band.  She fusses about on the stage, tripping over things, telling us about how Giant Drag have always been cursed with technical difficulties and after someone shouts that they like her stripey, Neapolitan socks, Hardy tells us they were $1.50 and contemplates that the British exchange rate isn’t going to cover a fraction of the accidents and “bad things” for this tour.  Hardy labels herself as “a professional homeless” and tells us how Charlie Sheen paid for her flight here.  She also recollects how much she enjoyed a deep fried Mars bar experience; comparing it to hardcore street drugs where it feels good but you have the real fear that you are going to die.  In amongst all this chatter she also tells us about Giant Drag’s ‘funeral’ to be held in London on 24th which sounds like an unmissable event.  Everyone must wear black.  I start to think about how I might be able to get there.

For the start of her next song, Hardy hits the volume, quipping “I have a vagina; it doesn’t need to be that loud”.  This instigates a vagina chant from the crowd.  Before you know it, it’s the end of the set and Hardy stumbles off stage seemingly trying not to drop her guitar.  The crowd stand around waiting for an encore.  A few manage to muster a couple of feeble shouts but it’s a very poor encore call indeed, very British.  They definitely want more though as no one has moved.  Brendan steals the set list.  “What a shame they’re not going to play these two songs” he says.  Luckily for us Hardy is very empathetic and understands that we’re “a low energy British crowd” and that we have all this bad weather wearing at our spirits.  An enquiry is made about where the set list has got to (by this point it is in my handbag).  “Oh, I expect someone took it as a souvenir” Hardy dismisses.  She introduces her next song ‘Wicked Game’ as a song that her boyfriend at 7 years old (an older man) stole from her due to the vagina situation.  And we are seen out by the well-known ‘Kevin is Gay.’

The first thing Brendan says to me after the gig is ‘I think I’m going to Newcastle’ (place of the next show on Monday) “She’s brilliant!’” And we start to plot a trip there complete with the interview that I pussied out of tonight!

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Louise Fletcher

Originally from Bristol, I emigrated to The North after studying Sociology at Exeter University. In my opinion the Manchester music scene is pretty unbeatable and very inspiring! It even encouraged me to start a band! Long live the live music scene!