Off The Record

Off The Record

– The Northern Quarter, Manchester 04/11/2016 –

The Pearl Harts

The Pearl Harts (All photos by Peter Rea).


GIGS: Influencers in the music industry have been brought together in Manchester’s Northern Quarter today to share their knowledge and instill confidence in a new generation, with advice on how to attain your dream job, start your own label, or get your band noticed. Champions of fresh talent from the BBC, and other reputable taste-makers, open their doors to anyone interested in the business and being a part of it, in some form or another.

Manchester has a wealth of great venues of all sizes, attracting musicians from all over the north west and beyond to come here and find an audience. Established A&R people from radio and the industry have been asked to choose 30 bands who have been together less than 2 years and are yet to release an album, to play live in 6 different venues that are all separated by just a short walk in the rain.

The enthusiasm from all the artists included in this event is palpable. There are healthy crowds at all venues all night, providing – most likely – the biggest audiences that they have ever played to. As a result, everything is left on stage with the performers hoping to impress someone who could take their band to the next level.

London’s Tear open the Aatma stage at 6pm, under recommendation from The Charlatans Tim Burgess – an intense looking drummer pounds the beat to rasping rock songs that sound similar to early PJ Harvey. In contrast, hotly tipped Xamvolo stands cooly in front of Night & Days crowd, adding a jazz vibe to the roster that largely consists of very loud rock bands.

Another Tim Burgess discovery – Blueprint Blue frontman Huw Webb showcases his (blues) guitar skills, soloing with a ‘Cry Baby’ wah-wah over what sounds like Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds ‘People Ain’t No Good’. They finish their 30-minute set with a medley of sorts, consisting of The Beatles ‘Don’t Let Me Down’ and George McCrae’s 1974 hit ‘Rock Your Baby’.


Backwaters, Gullivers.

Blackwaters explode onto the Gulliver’s stage in a frenzy of hair and swearwords, after a rush to get here from Guildford. Recommended by Andy Smith of Futuresound, they blast way through a set that sounds like The Libertines on rocket fuel. Saltwater Sun draw  a large and appreciative crowd at Soup Kitchen, while duo Her’s entertain Gulliver’s with a cheeky performance, accompanied by a drum machine that has a photo of Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond taped to the front of it.

Other bands of note include female rock duo The Pearl Harts, TV AMFrancobollo and Rews. Basically, wherever you look tonight there is raw talent that deserve the limelight and are having a blast. False Advertising finish the night at The Ruby Lounge, displaying why they are headlining the main stage with a superb, thrilling “twisted power-grunge” set that brings about their first ever encore, and tears of joy from lead singer Jen Hingley.

Off The Record carried a relaxed and friendly vibe throughout – informing and educating during the day and entertaining long into the night. Hopefully, the event will snowball in years to come and the artists that take part will go on to great things. It was discussed that there used to be just four TV channels and no internet in this country, so any mention in the media could propel a band to success overnight – but the industry is more fragmented now-a-days and we’re bombarded with information from all angles. Events like this could serve as something like a grassroots version of The Mercury Music Prize, increasing a bands sales, or prospects, with their inclusion alone. Maybe, in a few years time, we will look back on the success of Off The Record’s ‘Class of 2016’.

False Advertising

False Advertising, The Ruby Lounge.

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Peter Rea

I like to go see fresh new music at Manchester's superb selection of smaller venues, and then share my enthusiasm.