Thomas, Joseph and Murphy / Jessica Tansey / Lee Bailey / Denise Morgan / Music by numbers / Patrik @ Levenshulme’s M19 Bar
Written by August Hayes
Stylishly presented and conveniently situated in the bustling heart of multi-cultural Levenshulme, Manchester, this evening's event at M19 bar offered a selection of singer-songwriters and musicians who performed before a live audience, and were also broadcast live on BBC Radio Manchester’s 'Irish Citizen' show. The Levenshulme Festival is organised and presented by Tony Hennigan. This event marked a significant shift toward highlighting the wealth of talent currently working on the northwest acoustic circuit.
Earlier that evening, I met Jessica Tansey, who was rehearsing in the venue's courtyard. The performance that followed our brief introduction was both enchanting and beautifully delivered. Jessica’s voice is heartbreaking. Her manner (self-effacing though it may be) is intriguing and magnetic. All those present were, willingly I might add, drawn into her Spanish flavoured songs like spellbound moths to a hazy moon. Jessica’s sound is honest and fresh, her songs are too, her appeal is far- reaching. Let's hope we don’t have to wait too long to hear it again.
Thomas, Joseph and Murphy hail from Liverpool. As all footy fans know, playing away can be an unsettling experience. However, although I am reluctant to make any assumptions about their sporting allegiances, I am resolutely impressed by their ability to retain an identity that is (dare I say it) as unique as the great team itself. Thomas, Joseph and Murphy are excellent; their songs weave intricately between chord and note. They are wrapped lovingly in melody, bathed in vocal harmonics; they feel and sound as comforting as the breeze and the sea in the summertime. What more can I say other than that their press does not mislead and if you do not believe me check out their Myspace.
Karen Mc Bride has just arrived; she rushes in, unpacks her lush camera and immediately sets about taking pictures of Lee Bailey during his last song, 'Cut the Blue'. Lee's blistering performance is well received and well deserved too. His sound and delivery are raw and energetic. His acoustic guitar is quickly packed away into its case and he heads off on foot to play another show. 'Lee, come back I want to talk to you!' I say. 'No!' He shouts, 'You know what the trains are like!' 'I am off my friend, oh and I nearly forgot to say, do not salute the Magpies.'
Meanwhile, Denise Morgan and Julian Homer take the stage. They perform three songs or is it four? Yes, it is four. Two songs intertwine. The third, That Girl, is a gentle ballad and a standout track. I ask Denise following her radio interview; I say is that song, 'That Girl', particularly significant? 'Yes it is', she replies, and what is it about, I ask. 'Love gone wrong', she exclaims. In fact, most of the songs I heard tonight by Denise are love songs. Her voice is strikingly rich in tone and I am not surprised to hear that she has recorded vocals for Dubstar records. Equally, I am not surprised that Denise has a successful record out in Japan. Denise Morgan has her fingers in many musical pies (if there is such a thing) and if there was such a thing I would buy it and it would be, a wonderful eclectic pie made of chocolatey, velvety notes and sugary fizzy things.
The night is now in full swing, the mood is high and the real ale is flowing. Karen’s car has broken down, the bar staff are now eating chocolate and a Bishop from California is being interviewed for radio. Aidan O'Rourke is interviewing Tony Hennigan. Jeremiah is weaving in and out of the crowd reading his self-penned beat poems and startling monologues.
Patrik (Patrik Thornhill and Ginette Sakel) have finished their set and are now sitting in the cold, damp courtyard where Jessica performed earlier. During our interview, they patiently describe why they write. Patrik are a two-piece combo, vocal, acoustic guitar and cello. This combination produces a dark sound, which reflects the socio-political content of the lyric. The tones are rich and the beat is low down. The delivery is intense. The cello, if played well in a sweeping, vigorous manner is always a sight and sound worth seeing and hearing and this performance did not disappoint. Patrik plan to play regularly in and around Manchester, so go on and see them, you would be wise to pay their Myspace a visit too!
Lee is back and I quickly take the opportunity to quiz him about his earlier comments. He declines to enlighten me though does tell me that his great grandmother on his mother's side was once a vaudeville singer. I give him some chocolate, he thanks me with a tilt of his pork pie hat and then lights a cool cigarette.
Karen is offered a lift to the Academy by the band, Music by numbers, where she plans to photograph Ash. The bishop has gone and the chocolate has run out. The night is slowing down now and so I take the opportunity to speak with the kindly band MBN before they go. I ask them about the song 'Static' and apologise for missing their set. They graciously forgive me and explain that the song is based on a tragic tale of a beautiful woman who has lived an unfortunate life. The tale is a sad one though ends with an optimistic twist. This story kind of sums MBN up, they are very optimistic, they have a right to be too because they are damn good. They then inform me that they have had thirteen thousand downloads within the last five months. So, do not take my word for it. You all know what to do, and I'll say it again: Check out their Myspace and check out M19’s website while you are at it.
August Hayes 2007