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:: Bearsuit :: Kathryn Edwards :: Les Malheureux :: Cecille Grey :: Feeds :: Ajimal :: Wooderson :: The Fancy Dress Party :: Elisa & the Bear :: Sleeping Dog ::
21 October 2012 / Various Venues / Manchester
By Ged Camera

“Shall I turn it off and on?”

Ahh, that catch all, normally reliable approach to dealing with technology problems such as when your keyboard fails just before the first song. It's ten years (!) since I first caught BEARSUIT (2022NQ) plying an enjoyable form of indie pop.

Now, after a series of extensive line up changes that appears to leave Iain Ross as the only original member, the sound - when they can get going - is firmly towards the meatier edge of synth beats and harmonies. Unfortunately, it one that, whilst they keep trying to get it going, and despite a new lead plus a box of tricks, even by turning things off and on, it ain’t going to fully work this time.

What’s this about a bloke who can’t “toss”? Somewhere that the technology is working is at the Castle, where Sarah Clare Conlon is reciting her stories (apparently less than 300 words in length) she has stored on her mobile phone. As she does that, the other half of the duo LES MALHEUREUX David Gaffney, is delivering a soft of cheesy, 70’s type musical underlay via a Casio keyboard. This act is the last act under the “Bad Language” showcase that will highlight the strengths of prose before the scheduled music begins. Yes, tossing the caber isn’t a strength of Conlon’s friend. The detail in her observations can turn the most mundane setting to one you want to experience, such as “Standing under an electricity pylon for stimulation”. As someone who has written a book titled “Quickies: Short Stories for Adults” her style of double entendres keeps listeners eagerly wanting more.

Whether wishing to seek new artists or known favourites, the Carefully Planned Festival allows people to do either - so a new band for me, the Nottingham based CECILLE GREY are next on the agenda. The opening numbers are delicately crafted creations, tinged with a folk pop element that sees Aurélie Guinard backed by Nabeena Mali (guitars), Daniel England (drums) and Michael Hutchinson (bass). Then after the second, the drummer walks off stage. Is it in response to an urgent call on his mobile? Is it because England has had only had a week to learn their songs, which is true? The answer is more straightforward; it’s to allow a slight change is pacing into the set, one that showcases the vocal abilities of Guinard. Supplemented with the gentle nuances of Mali and Hutchinson they move into a more traditional folk tinged area as Guinard’s voice swoops and sails across an impressive aural range.

Across at Gulliver’s FEEDS are blasting out a dramatic, type of rock in an effective manner that deserves a larger audience, more than the few who are present. There are five in the band and three of them take turns on the vocal, not as a demonstration of the “everyone gets a share of the limelight” approach but one that allows a change in tone and style and some nice harmonies.

From indie folk and rock, Nexus café highlight sanother element of the diversity encompassed by the event, as they appear to corner the market in the more acoustic side of things such as AJIMAL. Not animal but definitely man, Newcastle lad Fran O’Hanlon is sat at a piano using the simple arrangements to accompany his rich voice as those sat in the comfortable sofas around him listen attentively.

“Is that the loudest you’re going to sing?” asks the sound engineer just before the blu-tack on the pick-ups attached to Sinead Fletcher’s cello fall off. From the opposite side of the stage KATHRYN EDWARDS smiles wryly and announces that “This may be a good time to get a drink from the bar”. Alternatively we can stay here and listen to her tales of how much they enjoyed yesterday’s edition of the event, which included some of the girls dressing up as blokes in Kraak. Her choice of style was to disguise herself as David Hockney.

“I can talk” announces Edwards and she can also sing and it seems a lot of people know that. After one song she emphasies “For those who weren’t sure I said ‘You can see my BREATH’””. Minutes before the pair took to the stage, the room in the Castle was fairly empty but is now at capacity.The elegant, sometimes sad yet sharp tales of relationships and friendship have won this crowd over. “I close my eyes and the nightmares slip away” may be a comment upon her Hockney impression...

Brutal rock, in the style of Rocket from the Crypt is being hurtled from the stage of the Soup Kitchen to an audience who want more. WOODERSON have the punk energy and chords that their followers here desire. Sweat is falling from their bodies and bodies in the crowd are moving as their appetite is sated.

A climb up the stairs to Kraak bar reveals that ELISA AND THE BEAR are part way thought their set. It’s good to see that all of the venues have a different set of faces in the crowd rather than being a small contingent moving around. Kraak is not the largest stage of the venues and the five piece look as though they can just about squeeze onto it without knocking into each other. Once they are in full flow with their country rock sound based around the combination of keyboards and guitars it does appear to have the making of someone getting a black eye as the guitars are intensely strummed.

It’s even more of a struggle for THE FANCY DRESS PARTY (Castle) to take up less than half of the room, especially when Holly Carpenter has to carefully pick her way though an assortment of leads and pedals to reach the other side of the stage where the glockenspiel is set. I’m glad they managed to make the 6:30 start on a Sunday morning to get here from Essex because the sound is still vibrant enough to catch the listener’s attention after a solid five hours of music. Mandolins are used, and I think a ukulele is present, whilst front man Trefor Jones occasionally stoops to the mini bull horn speaker in front of him. The band doesn’t have many gigs lined up in the future but if you like Manchester favourite Air Cav, you should appreciate this band.

The two members of SLEEPING DOG, Chantel Acda and Adam Bryanbaum Wiltzie (good for scrabble I believe), should easily fit onto the stage, but as I squeeze into the room I can only hear them not see them. A quick elevation of the camera and a review of the resulting picture reveals that the duo have taken up a position in the middle of the room and the audience have circled around them. A hushed room is attentive to the sounds from xylophones or the guitar or the vocals or any combination.

There’s a few more bands to see, and whilst the organisers aren’t sure if they have broken even, the promising sign is that the crowds are still increasing as the night goes on.

Les Malheureux
Cecille Grey
The Fancy Dress Party

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