Curiosity has brought me out tonight. I have little to no knowledge of the bands, whether that makes for an unbiased neutral review or just reveals an incompetent lack of research is up to you.

There were two elements that convinced me. The revamp of the Pint Pot being one – the music and look and feel is so much better – and the fact that Sunny Manchester has put the night on. Sunny Manchester is both a label and promoter whose intent is set on unearthing a few gems from our now flourishing music scene. Sunny is a music graduate from Salford Uni and now plans to serve the interests of all the local music students and anyone else in Manchester with her label and gig nights in Salford and beyond.

The first thing we see is a Kora stretched out on the stage – a definite surprise. When John Haycock, another Salford graduate, takes the stage that surprise seems like nothing. His playing of the Kora is masterful and he adds an orchestral element, bringing out all that is beautiful about the instrument. He wears Adidas trainers and if you saw him in the street, you really would have no idea of his incredible talent.

Each composition ends with a shy nod to the crowd, before another beautiful song begins to unfurl. It is understated and truly bewildering, I mean we’re in Salford watching a guy play a Kora to 10 people! After his set he straps his Kora on his back and appears to be leaving, until he returns to grab his complimentary Speckled Hen and head back out on to the Pint Pot carpark.

The Bear Around Your Neck

The Bear Around Your Neck

Well, how do you follow that? With Bear Around Your Neck of course. A shy long haired musician, Bear Around Your Neck doesn’t get off to the best start it’s fair to say. The microphone is at the wrong height as he punctuates his first song with a few direct forehead clashes with the mike. After the first song  though, things start to make a bit more sense. A voice that is reminiscent of the Decemberists’ singer sounds out and a clear sense of melody starts to emerge over the heavy refurb. He’s an unlikely hero but with songs like ‘Honeybee’ he could make an impression – the girls buying his CD at the end of the night certainly seem to think so.

Tonight’s main act have the rather forgettable band name, Chaika. They are instantly very full sounding, although it is hard to separate them from the musicians of Manchester’s past – do I really have to name them? At times they show some unique elements, their songs often have a great transition in the middle which has a transformational quality – completely throwing the original sound on its head, and starting a new one. It’s an impressive skill and one they should hone.

Their fourth song shows this perfectly. The vocals lose any bravado and instead adopt a tone more in line with rapping – it’s an impressive song and one that definitely could excite. They’re full of potential but just need to refine and work out what’s going to make them stand out in today’s musical maelstrom.

While each act had their slight flaws, other than the incredible John Haycock, tonight has been a great night – for four quid it’s an absolute steal. If this is just a small showcase of Sunny Manchester have to offer, then I am really excited to see what comes from them in the future. If you’re out and about next Friday, then get down to The Eagle Inn pub in Salford for their label showcase – you won’t regret it.

Chaika  Official | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

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.