Radical Face is the pseudonym of musical act Ben Cooper, who hails from Jacksonville, Florida. I’d been listening to him since his 2007 release Ghost, which contains a song (‘Welcome Home, Son’) that most of you have undoubtedly heard while watching a Nikon advert either in the cinema or at home or anywhere else with a TV, really.

I leave the confines of my cosy flat and head out into a chilly night. Arriving at The Deaf Institute, I worm my way to the side of the stage, literally right next to the steps. It isn’t long before the door beside me opens and five men walk up to their respective instruments.

The band plays a total of 13 songs: A nice mixture of offerings from Ghost and The Family Tree trilogy (except for The Relatives, yet to be released). Cooper opens the gig with some audience interaction, revealing that it is Radical Face’s first time in Manchester. What a surprise!

All night, Cooper spends a lot of time explaining the story behind his songs. The themes are quite dark and macabre, including murder and suicide. But such lyrics are set against a backdrop of folk music dripping with guitar-laden and piano-driven optimism.

One thing that catches my eye (or rather, the eye of the cellist in me) is the viola da gamba, an ancient instrument very similar in appearance to the cello. It is accompanied by a host of other instruments, including a tambourine and a melodica. Apart from the instruments, Radical Face’s music is entirely unique because they incorporate natural sounds in some of their songs. For instance, the sound of a creaking door in ‘Along The Road’ and farm bells in ‘Always Gold’.

My favourites include ‘Reminders’, ‘Letters Home’, ‘The Crooked Kind’ and ‘Ghost Towns’. Radical Face closes the night with a cover of ‘Not In Nottingham’, a song from Disney’s Robin Hood. As Cooper plays the guitar on stage and sings, three of his bandmates walk around with percussions on stage and through the crowd, performing actions that match the lyrics. It is incredibly entertaining and good fun!

I must admit that I was not a fan of their entire show. There were certain points such as an overload of banter between members that left the audience slightly puzzled, the uncertainty of what the next song is and missing setlists, etc. But one should always stay till the end, because sometimes it pays off – like this one.

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Amanda Hoi

Amanda is in a committed, lifelong relationship with indie electronic music. Plays the cello and guitar, and plans to sing once she's mustered enough courage. She's a Malaysian who's found her home in Manchester. Currently reading law at the University of Manchester.