You might not want to read on much further when I say that I have NEVER seen the Ruby Lounge this empty. But don’t despair! I blame this anomaly on the fact that the support band Casablanca were…oh let’s not be mean: not stupendous. So put that into the context of the main act only coming on at half nine on a cold Wednesday evening, and perhaps this is slightly understandable?

Who knows, but the 20 people that are here are certainly going to make up for their lazy/not bothered/fallen comrades, myself included. 2007’s Nice and Nicely Done album was favourably received by both the critics and the punters; indeed that twinkly ‘Oh Mandy’ track made me want to change my name for a while. But this is the tour for the recent release of The Spinto Band’s third ‘proper’ album Shy Pursuit, so let’s not be hasty.

True to form the new songs have a bouncy and happy-clappy nature, with the band clearly enjoying their fresh material. ‘Muesli’ has a certain tropical element with playful lyrics and beachy guitar chords: just add a pina colada and the illusion would be complete. ‘Cookie Falls’ is a rather more dreamy number but is no less catchy, and soon has the Loyal 20 swaying their heads in time to the lovely harmonies. ‘Take It’ is another strong number from the latest album, a bassy track that takes full advantage of the band’s excellent percussionist.

The upside of it being such a poorly attended gig is that it feels like spying on a jam with the Spintos: there is some experimentation with timings and tunings, and at one point they bring on a silvery Steve Hobson from the The Sin City Band to lead a guitar face-off with a country twist. However, the downside is that when The Spinto Band perform those sweet and popular songs from Nice and Nicely Done, there’s a certain amount of “alright then, here you go.” Even the delightful but obligatory ‘Oh Mandy’ towards the end of the set seems not to shine quite as brightly, although the band do have fun with the wistful ‘Direct to Helmet’.

The Spinto Band’s performance is confident and playful and they clearly have an ear for the kind of tune that sounds like warm American apple pie. The group’s strength is most definitely its vocals: the three guitarists led by Nick Krill each have beautifully smooth tenor voices that wouldn’t go awry in a 50s swing band. Sadly, and perhaps purposefully, the sound setup has been rigged so that the vocals sink under the weight of the drums and guitars. But none of this matters when it comes to the highlight of the evening: an energetic rendition of the legendary Joe Meek’s ‘Telstar’ that is utterly delicious. Manchester, if only for this song, you don’t know what you missed.

Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.