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Three Nights of Indie Pop - Manchester and Glasgow, 6/10/2023....8/10/2023

  by Dixie Ernill

published: 19 / 1 / 2024

Three Nights of Indie Pop - Manchester and Glasgow, 6/10/2023....8/10/2023

THE TALLEYRAND, MANCHESTER, 6 OCTOBER 2023 DAVEY WOODWARD & THE WINTER ORPHANS THE CLAIM WEBSTERS THEATRE, GLASGOW, 7 OCTOBER 2023 THE JASMINE MINKS THE MULDOONS DAVEY WOODWARD & THE WINTER ORPHANS HUG & PINT, GLASGOW, 8 OCTOBER 2023 THE POPGUNS HOMEWORK It must be years, if ever, since I’ve done three consecutive gigs and at the princely age of 52 I came through it unscathed. First up was one of my favourite local venues, that has in recent times hosted some great gigs by the likes of The Orchids, The Chesterfields, Pete Astor and The Natvral to name but a few. On an unseasonably warm Manchester evening, The Claim, who had first come to prominence as an indie-pop band in the late 80’s as part of the Medway scene along with The Dentists, played a well crafted set of two halves. Starting off acoustically as a three piece before adding a drummer for an electric second half, the band mixed tracks such as ‘Light Bending’ and ‘Just Too Far’ from their most recent album, ‘The New Industrial Ballads’, with older songs like the excellent ‘Picking Up The Bitter Little Pieces’ and ‘Not So Simple Sharon Says’, before finishing with a great ‘Spring Turns To Winter’. Despite being seasoned musicians, the joy of playing live was evident on the band members’ faces and ultimately infectious. Whilst Davey Woodward and his fellow band members also have musical roots going back to the 80’s (and even very late 70’s), they resist the temptation to slip in any tracks from previous ventures and pack the set with songs predominately from their two most recent albums 2020’s ‘Love and Optimism’ and the recently released ‘Mystic Science.’ The songs still contain most of the ingredients that have flavoured Woodward’s impressive canon of work – melody, wit and a subtle skill of weaving often mundane situations and memories into engaging musical gems – but embrace a more indie-folk take on things when once buzz-saw guitars and machine gun drumming may have been pushed to the fore. The set builds from quieter numbers in the shape of ‘3 Nights’ and a brooding ‘Black Dog’ to the more instant pop of ‘Everyone Recommends’ and ‘Aliens’. There is no let up in quality, but then with Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans there seldom is. Glasgow is wet and 10 degrees cooler. The contrast in weather is quite remarkable, as is the venue for Saturday night’s triple header. Websters Theatre is a wonderful converted old church, complete with gargoyles. the only downside being the plentiful availability of banked seating, set away from the stage, making a natural divide between band and audience. The abundance of space on the stage and the airy nature of the venue brings out the best in Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans. Guitarist Julian Hunt relishes the opportunity to waltz his guitar around the left of the stage, teasing out chiming notes with effortless ease whilst the usually steadfastly still JB on bass even allows himself a coy shuffle or two. Stood between them, Davey Woodward is a man relaxed in the knowledge that his songs are something special and delivers them with a deserved confidence. Behind them is the ever reliable Steve Dew, whose understated drumming is an integral part of band’s wonderful sound. Songs like ‘Occupy This Space’ and ‘Confetti’ simply soar and deserve much wider acclaim. Local band The Muldoons are next up and whilst never quite reaching the heights of the previous band, still put on a fine show. Playing only a handful of songs from the only album so far, ‘Made For Each Other’, is a bold move, but it pays off handsomely as the band’s new songs are more than worthy . The sound is very much akin to the jangle pop of the mid 80’s and the splash of trumpet only adds to it. I like it, it’s a smile raising trip into the past. It’s a shame that the set is almost over by the time there is any kind of dance floor action to the ultra-catchy second single ‘Don’t Be Like That Gir’l that nods favourably to prime-time Wedding Present. Certainly a band to watch and I await their next album with keen interest. Final band are Aberdeen’s finest, The Jasmine Minks, who first made waves on the indie scene about 40 years ago when they began releasing records on Alan McGee’s (who gets a namecheck in the introduction to opening song ‘Think’) Creation Records. Whilst reasonable prolific in the 1980s, the band were fairly quiet until a couple of albums at the start of the Millennium and then a few one off singles and occasional gigs in the last decade to keep the flame alive. Now though they have a new LP, ‘We Make Our Own History’, ready to drop and are keen to showcase a fair few songs from it along with old favourites too. Of the new songs, current single ‘She Knows’ and ‘You Broke More Than Just Your Mother’s Heart’ are the most instant, but in truth the other four or five show that the band’s songwriting skills haven’t diminished with the passage of time. The best reaction however is reserved for other tracks ‘Cold Heart’, ‘Time For You’ and of course ‘Where The Traffic Goes’. The Jasmine Minks should not be written off just yet. Sunday brings a return to a snug venue is the shape of The Hug and Pint for Brighton’s The Popguns, another band that have been around since the late 80’s, albeit with some time off for good behaviour in the late 90’s and through the 00’s. Support band, Homework, sound good in an indie-rock way, but I only catch their last song, so hard to pass real judgement. The Popguns have made the long drive up the Glasgow from a gig in Bristol the night before, but show no signs of fatigue as they launch into ‘Put Me Through It’, one of many singles that that they cram into an energetic set. Singer, Wendy Pickles, has a great voice, but such is the loudness of her bandmates’ guitars and drums that sometimes it is lost in the mix, but it hardly detracts from a really enjoyable hour or so. All four songs from their new Popism EP are included and sit nicely alongside established favourites like ‘Bye Bye Baby’, ‘Landsllde’ and ‘Gesture’, indeed ‘Red Cocoon’ is one of the highlights. A near breathless ‘Waiting For The Winter’ brings the set to a close before two more pop nuggets make for an ace encore. Three nights, three gigs….. and breathe!

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Three Nights of Indie Pop - Manchester and Glasgow, 6/10/2023....8/10/2023

Three Nights of Indie Pop - Manchester and Glasgow, 6/10/2023....8/10/2023

Three Nights of Indie Pop - Manchester and Glasgow, 6/10/2023....8/10/2023

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At three different venues in Manchester and Glasgow across three nights, Dixie Ernill enjoys sets from indie pop acts such as Davey Woodward and The Winter Orphans, The Jasmine Minks and The Popguns.

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