My return to a great venue, The Castle, Manchester
Sunday night saw my return to the Castle, a venue I’m very fond of playing here in Manchester. This time I was supporting a band from Leeds called Heir. They had got in touch after a friend had very nicely recommended me to them, and I was rather excited to be opening up the evening for them. The other support band were called PEAKES, and I was told that both bands had studied music together in Leeds. Being an outsider from Manchester, I actually felt very welcomed when I arrived, making me even more delighted to be joining them. Although I only caught a snippet of PEAKES sound check I was already very much looking forward to the evening.
As people began to bustle into the room, I took to the stage, just me and my trusty piano. The set that I had prepared for the Castle gig consisted of songs old and new. Playing new songs is always rather nerve-wracking but thankfully the audience responded very kindly! Now, because I love playing with the band I can find performing on my own rather lonely. However having the audience listen so quietly is something I always appreciate, especially when I play on my own. I take this as encouragement that they think I have songs worth listening to and that’s a wonderful feeling! So I was very happy to find that this happened last night and I just want to thank the people who listened so intently and supported me. It reminds me why I love performing which in turn helps me overcome my performance anxiety. I would also like to point out that the sound engineer did an excellent job and it’s surprising how much a good mix can make playing that much more enjoyable. It made projecting my voice and getting the emotions of the song across far easier.
If you want to hear the type of songs I play by myself, just click on the link below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHxQDNpLu38
At 20:45 it was PEAKES turn to take to the Castle stage. Their set up was a three-piece with a drummer, singer, and a synth-player so I was intrigued to see how their sound would unfold. Almost immediately I was amazed by how full a sound that the three of them produced. Granted, they were running backing tracks and samples to add depth and texture, but in my opinion this worked well and meant the arrangements were amazingly choreographed. In their own words they describe their music as ‘Electronical Popical Classy’, which quite frankly is pretty accurate. They reminded me of London Grammar, only playing around more heavily with drumbeats and synth sounds. The whole feeling of the set was chilled and mellow but equally atmospheric with intense build-ups in the perfect places!
It would be hard for me to pick a favourite song from their set, but I loved the whole easy and atmospheric feeling of ‘Contemplate’. When the lead singer, Molly, announced they were going to perform their rendition of The Carpenter’s ‘Close to You’ I was interested to see how they would arrange the song. Sure enough I wasn’t left disappointed, as they created it to fit their style which gave it a whole new and modern twist that was completely their own. It wasn’t until after their performance that I was told they had only been together for a few months. Madness!
If you want to check out PEAKES for yourself you can visit their page, and keep your eyes peeled for a video of their song ‘Better Days’ coming soon.
The finale of the night was the five piece band, Heir. They describe themselves as a ‘Pop’ band but honestly, I think there’s more to it than that. There are definitely elements of a folky acoustic vibe which I love and I think this helps set them apart. Heir, made up of drums, bass, keys, electric and acoustic guitars, filled the entire room with exciting, dreamy sounds. If I were to compare their music to others I would suggest bands such as Kodaline, The Lumineers and James Bay, but playing with rockier elements.
Whilst I have terrible harmonising skills (something I am working on!), I am still a sucker for beautiful harmonies and, well, these guys nailed it, with 4 members interweaving them in each song and maybe that’s what achieved the dreaminess. It added an extra layer to the songs that they executed perfectly every time. This was highlighted even more so when three-quarters of the way through the set they performed a completely acoustic, stripped back song called ‘Castles and Islands’. Here they brought their sound back to its roots as they unplugged their guitars, stepped away from the microphones and stood together to perform to a hushed, awestruck audience. My favourite tracks (although difficult to pick as I loved them all!) were ‘Scrapped Paper’ and, ‘I’ll Pick You Up’, with their catchy hooks, and the final track, ‘When the Lights Went Out’. This was the only track I had heard previous to the show so was thrilled that they ended on this!
If you fancy a listen, check out these links below:
I can confirm the evening was a great success, so let me know if you like any of the tracks featured in today’s blog in the comment section below! I’ll always post upcoming gigs on my social media pages so follow along if you want to keep updated!
Speak to you soon,