LIVE REVIEWSJUNE 2000
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circuitmagazine - 3 Cities Tour - Baxta, Superelectric, The Rio6 - Night & Day 15.6.00
Thursday nights in Manchester are sometimes indistinguishable from a Friday. Bars and Clubs do brisk business and that weekend vibe is already in the air. Itís with this half-holiday feel that the Circuit Magazine supported 3 Cities tour, promoted by Charabanc, blows into town.
Having already surprised Leeds and defrocked Liverpool, Manchester provided the final destination and climax to this enterprising and original proposition. A quid in and 4 live acts, is just what we tight northerners love.
Baxta, or Tom Baxta, as it was on this occasion, only had to carry his own beer and an acoustic guitar. Any thoughts along the lines of "warm up act" were quickly dispelled, as, despite sitting down, he proceeded to create his own, one man acoustic wall of sound. Without any doubt an accomplished guitar player, he ably manufactures his version of mellow madness. At times singing and playing straight for the jugular, he sometimes veers straight off into the melancholy. Itís at times pretty and at other times pretty angular. Its great stuff and emotionally draining and because itís so hard to describe, it must be goodÖ
Making a second appearance in town, in as many months, Superelectric, enthusiastic about being described as "baggy big beat" , provide some humourous in-song and between song banter. Without a moments deflection from their task, monitor adjustments and mini-disc problems are resolved on-line and without taking a breath. Its bass, vocals, guitar, drums and Decks, with all of the electronica provided via samples and said mini-disc. The electronica manages to slice through and itís an enjoyable set, from a very promising band, who are double excellent on record. This sets highlight is undeniably their current release lead track "Going Blank", which provides the memorable tune that may even be hummed at the bus stop. This is Indie Dance, chewed up and reconfigured into something not far from Electronic meets Pulp. Well done chapsÖNEXT !
Only half way though and Monkey Steals The Drum take to the stage. A nice bit of jangly guitar and some strained vocals have you wondering whether its time to order a coffee or if something big is going to happen. Remember Back To The Future, when Marty McFly plugged in his guitar amp and got blown across the room as soon as he played a chord? Well, that happened tonight. And then some. Monkey Steals The Drum are a noisy outfit. Frank Black would have been well advised to sack The Catholics from day one and employ these 3 blokes and 1 young lady - at times, very Pixie-esque. There is a sway to faux-american indie singing and it should immediately qualify for a slap in the face with a wet fish. But it only happens once and itís easily forgiven, as we are taken on a journey to greater things. The guitars are Very LOUD, but with quiet bits strategically placed within songs, like sonic booby traps. There are two songs in this set that are truly awesome. Their live rendition of "Injured Birds" is dynamically brilliant, again with the Alt-West-Coast feel. Big bass, guitars and some very dark quirkiness. But itís the "..new song" that follows soon after that is more impressive. The vocal lines and rock-out indie feel of this number are at times fantastically harsh, yet soulful with switches between quiet/loud happening before you know it. The guitar breaks are excellent, as the two guitarists alternate their parts in the required middle eight phrase. Brilliant - a fact that has recently been recognised by John Peel - hence their recent session for the man. Finishing on their "Thrashy" number "Galilieo" is almost an anti-climax in a weird sort of way.
Finally, The Rio6 are back in town. Whilst lauded as being one of Manchesters acoustic saviours, their performance couldnít be further removed from the "quiet coffee bar" feel. With a portfolio of songs to make most unsigned bands jealous, the nights performance is undeniable fuelled by distorted guitars and a rockiní ryhthm section. Its dry, tongue in cheek stuff that has the neat lines and hooks straight out of the Deacon Blue / Grant Lee Buffallo vein of ballady rock. But these are loose references, used to only give a broad idea of the sound and perspective of the band. Its accessible, original and when so inclined, energetic. The Rio 6 can most definitely cut it and are a firm recommendation.
The atmosphere here tonight is fantastic. Thereís been a real event over the last 3 days that has brought together 3 quite different bands. Itís almost like a de-mob party, where every one is on a high, but somehow quite sad that itís all finished.
Itís an opportunity for unsigned bands, that is sadly rare and is truly one at which others will look on in envy Ė Lets hope that this is only just the beginningÖ..
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